On the way to the 13th state of emergency, Marcelo hears parties

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Mário Cruz / Lusa

The President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

The President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, will hear this Wednesday the nine parties with parliamentary seats, by videoconference, on the renewal of the state of emergency.

According to the agenda of the head of state, hearings are scheduled between 11 am and 5 pm, in that order: CDS-PP, Chega, PEV, PAN, Liberal Initiative, PCP, BE, PSD and PS.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who took office for a second term as President of the Republic on Tuesday, participated, on the previous day, by videoconference, in the 17th session on the situation of the covid-19 in Portugal.

During that meeting, also by videoconference, the Prime Minister, António Costa, considered that there is now “a more solid scientific basis ”to make decisions on the containment of covid-19 in Portugal, because the specialists “presented in a diverse and tendentially convergent way” a set of criteria to be followed.

The current state of emergency period ends at 11:59 pm on Tuesday, March 16.

Under the terms of the Constitution, this legal framework that allows the suspension of the exercise of certain rights, freedoms and guarantees cannot last more than fifteen days, without prejudice to any renewals with the same time limit.

To decree, the President of the Republic must listen to the Government and have authorization from the Assembly of the Republic, which in the last four renewals was given with votes in favor of PS, PSD, CDS-PP and PAN, BE abstaining and votes against of PCP, ENP, Enough and Liberal Initiative.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has already decreed a state of emergency twelve times in the current context of the covid-19 pandemic, the last of which was on February 25.

In the introductory text of this decree, the head of state argues that “the future lack of definition should be planned in stages, based on the recommendations of the experts and on objective data, such as the risk matrix, with more tests and more screening, to be successful ”.

When he spoke to the country, on the night of February 25, the President of the Republic asked “to study and prepare with time” the future lack of definition, not to repeat mistakes, and advised that this reopening should not be done “on the run” and that one should avoid “opening without criteria before Easter, to close it immediately afterwards, to reopen after it”.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa argued that “Easter is a risky time for confused or contradictory messages “and that” it is therefore a matter of prudence and security to maintain Easter as an essential milestone for the strategy in progress “.

The head of state warned that “it can never be said that there is no relapse or retreat” in the spread of covid-19 in Portugal and that “the numbers always go up faster than they go down”.

Under the state of emergency, the Government imposed a general duty of home collection and the closure of a set of activities, since January 15th. As of January 22, educational establishments were closed, first with a two-week school break, and then with distance classes.

In Portugal, more than 16 thousand patients have died with covid-19 and so far more than 802 thousand cases of infection with the new coronavirus that causes this disease have been reported, according to the Directorate-General for Health (DGS).

Doctors warn of “pressure”

The Independent Doctors’ Union (SIM) alerted this Monday to the pressure imposed on clinicians by the decrees of the state of emergency and warned of the lack of “essential work tools” to fight the pandemic.

“All this pressure is occurring at the same time that medical workers see themselves without essential work tools, as assistants in their clinical activity, as is the case, to set a single example, with those who in primary health care continue without a working computer ”, says SIM in a letter addressed to the President of the Republic.

At stake is, according to the union led by Jorge Roque da Cunha, the “crime of disobedience”Foreseen in the presidential decrees for cases of violation of the state of emergency, as well as the effort that doctors have made in combating the covid-19 pandemic.

According to SIM, the current state of emergency provides for the possibility of mobilizing health professionals to support the authorities in conducting epidemiological surveys, tracking contacts and following people under active surveillance, with doctors still limited to possibility of termination of employment relationships with the National Health Service (SNS).

In the letter addressed to Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the union recalls that doctors “have provided millions of hours of overtime”Throughout the pandemic and postponed the postponement of the “exercise of their vacation, clearances and compensatory rests ”.

“The repeated determination that they can be mobilized and that they are limited in the ability to terminate their employment relationships, if not attended to by them, formally constitutes a“ crime of disobedience ”, as it came to appear in the presidential decrees under analysis, reveals itself as a kind of affront that it cannot be denounced here again ”, stresses the SIM.

The letter also states that requests for support from health authorities have been “very easy to adhere to” by physicians, while the termination of ties to the NHS results in “the mere affectation of a certain medical worker from one health establishment to another”.

“In other words, even the cases of termination of employment have been translated into forms of redeployment: a medical worker separates, not because he wants to leave the medical profession or even the NHS, but because, and only, he needs to reorient the his career in another place of work, continuing, as before, to see patients and carry out their usual duties ”, assures the union.

In the same letter, SIM also warns that the Government is keeps “insensitive meeting requests and refuses ”to invest in the NHS, so that it would be“ more attractive to work ”in public health units.