WORLD Amid heated debate over mask, Portuguese president admits wearing mask when shopping


Amid heated debate over mask, Portuguese president admits wearing mask when shopping


17:23, April 05, 2020

LISBON, April 4 (Xinhua) -- Amid heated debate over whether to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa admitted Saturday that he wears a face mask when shopping, Lusa News Agency reported.

During a visit to a tomato farm in the municipality of Vila Franca de Xira, in the suburbs of Lisbon, Rebelo de Sousa told reporters that when he goes shopping, once or twice a week, he wears a face mask and gloves, Lusa reported.

"I wear a mask. This is an idea that came from [one of] my grandchildren. He learns from the Chinese example. China has another tradition of using masks," the 71-year-old president was quoted by Lusa as saying.

"I think that when I go to a commercial store to shop and there is a meeting with more people in a closed environment, I should wear gloves and a mask, so as not to [directly] touch food products and other things, packaging, etc.," said the president, quoted by Lusa.

The head of state had been in self-quarantine for 15 days when a school in the north was closed after one student tested positive early last month. He received a group of students from the school at the Palace of Belem several days before.

The president, having tested negative twice since then, said his quarantine is to give a reinforced example of prevention and demonstrate high civic maturity for the Portuguese people.

However, in Portugal, going out with a mask as a self-protective measure is still not very popular, even after the president declared a state of emergency on March 18 and renewed it on April 2 for another 15 days to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Directorate-General for Health (DGS) Graca Freitas has repeatedly claimed that wearing a mask is not necessary and only gives a false sense of security, adding that no single measure in the fight against COVID-19 "is miraculous."

"We know to date that there is no single measure that is completely effective. In other words, it is only in the set of measures that we are able to flatten the curve and lower the number of cases each week," she said at her daily press conference on Friday.

Faced with criticism from Fausto Pinto, the president of the Council of Portuguese Medical Schools, Freitas said that the widespread use of masks will be decided in line with international recommendations.

"Portugal is in line with the recommendations of the WHO, the European Center for Disease Control and the medical literature, and I have always said that if there is new scientific evidence, we would do it according to them," she said.

Pinto has criticized the DGS for lack of guidelines for the widespread use of protective masks, saying that the DGS's argument that masks are not effective is not true, and that it is an excuse because there are not enough masks in the country.

"It has been shown that the use of masks reduces the potential for contamination," he said.

Portugal has recorded 10,524 confirmed infections with 266 deaths, according to the bulletin of the DGS on Saturday.

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