Sunday March 07, 2021

Portugal closes schools for 15 days as COVID-19 deaths hit new record

Published : 21 Jan 2021, 22:46

  DF News Desk

A tram operates in Lisbon, Portugal, Jan. 15, 2021. File Photo: Xinhua.

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced on Thursday the closure of schools for 15 days as a new measure to contain the spread of the COVID-19 in the country, reported Xinhua.

Only schools that serve parents who work in services considered "essential" during the general confinement will remain open. The nationwide lockdown decreed under the state of emergency will be in force in Portugal until Jan. 30.

According to Costa, the government had to change the initial decision that kept schools open because health authorities had detected that the the new coronavirus variant first reported in UK "is proving to be much more infectious than the original strain."

Portugal recorded an additional 221 deaths related to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the highest number of daily deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Now the toll in the country stands at 9,686.

A further 13,544 new cases of infection with the coronavirus were registered, bringing the total to 595,149 in Portugal, according to the Directorate-General for Health (DGS).

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines, including Portugal.

Meanwhile, 237 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 64 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Jan. 15.