Portugal sees Covid spike driven by omicron subvariant

i24NEWS

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A man wearing a face mask walks outside the SL Benfica stadium in Lisbon, Portugal on November 29, 2021.
AP Photo/Ana BrigidaA man wearing a face mask walks outside the SL Benfica stadium in Lisbon, Portugal on November 29, 2021.

More than 90% of Portugal's population is fully vaccinated

An omicron sub-variant is fueling a surge in coronavirus cases in Portugal, according to official data.

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Portugal registered an average of 2,447 new cases per million people over the last seven days. 

Portugal has the world's fifth-highest death rate from Covid; while hospitalizations are on the rise, the numbers are still far below previous peaks.

More than 90 percent of Portugal's population is fully vaccinated.

Public health officials said on Tuesday that the omicron sub-variant BA.5 represented nearly 90 percent of new Covid infections. The BA.4 sub-variant was also detected in Portugal.

Both drove South Africa's fifth Covid wave last month, with scientists saying they were able to dodge antibodies from earlier infection.

"Portugal is probably the European country with the highest prevalence of this sub-lineage and this partly explains the high number (of cases) we are seeing," Health Minister Marta Temido said.

The government lifted most pandemic restrictions, including the mandatory use of masks in most indoor public spaces, in April and has said there are no plans to reintroduce measures.

Temido said the use of masks was still recommended and authorities would continue to roll out booster vaccine doses to the most vulnerable.

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