LISBON - The Portuguese government announced on Thursday that the entire Metropolitan Area of Lisbon (AML) will be in isolation on weekends, from 3 pm on Friday to 6 am on next Monday, in a bid to contain the increase in cases of COVID-19 in the country's capital.
The Minister of State for the Presidency, Mariana Vieira da Silva, said that "the restrictions on circulation in the AML" are intended to ensure that "the high incidence of the pandemic that is felt in this region is not transported out of it."
The ban affects 18 municipalities in the AML, with "reinforcement of the general inspection of activities and events" in the capital, said the minister in a statement to the press.
According to her, this is a new measure to control the pandemic that "is neither easy nor desired by anyone, but it is necessary" to contain the aggravation of the incidence of COVID-19 in the region due to the "prevalence of the Delta variant" of the new coronavirus.
Portugal recorded in the past 24 hours 1,233 new confirmed cases and two more deaths, with 13 more people hospitalized, according to the General Directorate of Health (DGS).
Thursday's epidemiological bulletin records a total of 364 people hospitalized, 88 of them in intensive care units, where five more patients were admitted, Lusa news agency reported.
It is the highest number of admissions with COVID-19 since April 26, when 365 people were admitted.
"Throughout the Lisbon Metropolitan Area, there is high growth. Our objective is no longer to prevent this transmission between municipalities, which is already very high, but to control what is still outside this metropolitan area," said the minister.
Unlike the rest of the country, Lisbon has not progressed to the last phase of deconfinement, or easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures, scheduled for this week.
In Portugal, 17,057 people have died so far out of 861,628 confirmed cases of infection, according to the latest bulletin from the DGS.
Over 6.96 million people have been vaccinated, the Portuguese health authorities said.