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Covid-19: Portuguese president tests positive for coronavirus

Lisbon - The 72-year-old head of state was “asymptomatic” and isolating in the presidential palace.


Published: Tue 12 Jan 2021, 11:13 AM

Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has tested positive for coronavirus and cancelled all public engagements, his office announced late Monday just two weeks before a presidential election he is expected to win.

The 72-year-old head of state was “asymptomatic” and isolating in the presidential palace in Lisbon, his office said in a statement.

Last Wednesday, he had spent a few hours in “administrative isolation” after a member of his entourage tested positive, but the president then tested negative and had not been placed in quarantine because his contact with the person concerned had been considered “low risk”.

Portugal is facing a new lockdown after a record 122 deaths in the past 24 hours and nearly 4,000 people in hospital on Monday.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa said the Socialist government was preparing to announce on Wednesday restrictions similar to those imposed during the first lockdown in March.

The campaign for the January 24 presidential election, which officially began on Sunday, had already been cut to the bare minimum and will be suspended on the announcement of a new lockdown to curb the surge in new cases.

Polls predict the re-election of the conservative Rebelo de Sousa in the first round of a ballot with no candidate officially supported by the ruling Socialists.

Community groups in thick of action

Public facilities in religious institutions and community organisations are transforming into hubs that attract thousands of UAE residents to get the free Covid-19 vaccine.

Two such locations have attracted huge numbers in the days since the UAE launched its vaccination drive - ‘Together we Recover’ campaign.

A total of 4,000 people have received the vaccination at the Indian Association Ajman premises and about 7,000 people received the Sinopharm vaccine over the weekend at St Joseph’s Church. A total of 27 riders, including the Tour de France 2020 winner, Slovenian cyclist Tadej Pogacar, and 32 members of staff also received the vaccine on January 8, thanks to G24 Healthcare.

Khaleej Times toured the Ajman Indian Association events auditorium on Monday, where approximately 1,500 people are arriving from all over the UAE every day to receive the free Sinopharm jab.

Large crowds of construction workers had travelled from Dubai to receive the vaccine in Ajman.

Rajalingam Chinnathambi, a construction worker said: “This is my booster Covid dose, I work in Dubai, but I came here just for the vaccine.”

Roop Sidhu, the general secretary of the Indian Association Ajman said, “We offered our auditorium to the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention staff. Dozens of doctors, nurses and paramedics are now providing their services seven days a week. On weekdays, we are open from 9 am to 9pm and Friday afternoons from 3pm to 9pm. To get the vaccination, people have to present their valid e-mail ids, Emirates IDs, and fill a simple form.”

Sidhu said there is waiting time for the vaccine depends on the crowds. “People from all nationalities are pouring in, and making use of the service. The first two days were not so busy, but as word has spread, thousands are coming every day.”

The service is not limited to Ajman residents, people who live in other Emirates can also get the vaccine.

Khaleej Times also caught up with some residents who took the jab in Ajman. Ramesh Kanthilal Vyas, 76, said, “I happy to get the vaccine and I feel much safer.”

Swetha Vipparla, a 19-year-old student, said: “I took the vaccine because I wanted to feel safer before I go back to university.”


Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

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