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Portugal set to announce state of emergency over coronavirus crisis

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa is expected to announce a state of emergency to impose tighter lockdown restrictions, as the country hosts its first Covid-19 ‘day of national mourning’ in Lisbon.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa asked the country’s president on Monday to declare a state of emergency as a preventive measure to fight the spread of coronavirus at a time when infections are soaring. De Sousa is expected to make a statement in a televised address to the nation on Monday night.

Costa told reporters on Monday: “It is a critical moment and declaring the… emergency will reinforce the civic awareness of the sanitary emergency we are facing.”

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FILE PHOTO. A woman wearing a face covering walks past a 'Social Distance to stay safe' sign in north London, October 30, 2020.
Portugal, Austria & England announce lockdowns as Europe increasingly toughens Covid-19 restrictions amid fierce protests

He had earlier stated that strict additional measures would need to be adopted to control the “serious evolution” of the virus. To help combat the disease, the government is seeking to make masks mandatory in public spaces and limit gatherings in public spaces to five people.

Ahead of the announcement, President de Sousa marked a national day of mourning near the Palace of Belem in Lisbon for those who have died from coronavirus.

Portugal has three emergency levels: a state of emergency, state of calamity and state of alert, with the prime minister now urging the president to declare the highest risk level. The country was previously plunged into a state of emergency in March, when people had to remain at home, except for a small number of activities, such as shopping for essential goods, going to work if they couldn’t work from home, seeking medical guidance, or exercising outdoors.

Health authorities in Portugal have reported 144,341 cases and more than 2,500 deaths from the virus, with a 14-day cumulative total of 432.3 cases per 100,000, surpassing its record of new daily Covid-19 infections over the weekend.

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