Portugal reimposes partial lockdown in most of the country as Covid-19 increases.

Portugal’s government on Saturday announced new lockdown restrictions from November 4 for most of the country, telling people to stay at home except for outings for work, school or shopping, and ordering companies to switch to remote working.

A day after daily coronavirus infections hit a record high, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said the measures would cover 121 municipalities, including the key regions of Lisbon and Porto. The affected areas are home to about 70 per cent of Portugal’s population of roughly 10 million.

Checkpoints have been set up across Portugal to stop unauthorised travel during a five-day movement ban which began on Friday to contain the spread of the coronavirus as the number of cases reached a record high.

Movement between Portugal’s more than 300 municipalities is prohibited between Friday and Nov. 3 to reduce risk of virus transmission during the All Saints national holiday but there are exceptions, including for those travelling to and from work.

In Benavente, not far from Lisbon, police stopped drivers and asked them why they were travelling. Most had a valid reason, according to police.

The lockdown list includes municipalities where more than 240 new infections have been registered per 100,000 people for the past 14 days, and will be reviewed every 15 days, Costa said in a televised news conference.

“If nothing is done, the rise in infections will inevitably lead us to a situation of failure of our health system,” he said.

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“We have a very tough month ahead of us. It is more likely we will add more municipalities than we drop from that list next time,” he said.

Portugal has recorded a comparatively low 141,279 infections and 2,507 deaths, but daily cases hit a record 4,656 on Friday before retreating to 4,007 on Saturday, when the death toll rose by 39.

A total of 1,972 people are in hospital after a non-stop increase in hospitalisations over the past two weeks, with 286 people in intensive care units.

The health system, which prior to the pandemic had the lowest number of critical care beds per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe, can accommodate 800 COVID-19 patients in ICUs.

Movement between Portugal’s municipalities had already been prohibited between Friday and Nov. 3 to reduce risk of virus transmission during the All Saints holiday.

Portugal, with just over 10 million people, has recorded a comparatively low 137,272 cases and 2,468 deaths but it reached 4,656 cases on Friday, the highest daily figure since the pandemic started. Testing has also increased.

A total of 1,927 people are in hospital, with 275 in intensive care units (ICUs) – more than the April peak of 271.

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