Schools are a “good example” of how to deal with a pandemic – ZAP

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José Sena Goulão / Lusa

The Secretary of State for Health, António Lacerda Sales

The schools registered a “very low” positivity rate in the previous school year, and are “a good example” of how to deal with the covid-19 pandemic, said secretary of State António Lacerda Sales this Wednesday.

According to the Deputy Secretary of State and Health, who was speaking to journalists in Alcácer do Sal (Setúbal), schools “have been an excellent example” in the response to the pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, due to the measures implemented.

“If we look at the previous year, the positivity rate was very low, was 0.15, which means that we were very attentive in terms of testing”, he said.

And, from the local authorities, there was also a lot of attention “in terms of risk assessment”.

“So I think the schools were a good example and they will continue to be a good example of how we deal with this pandemic”, he stressed.

Lacerda Sales, who was present this Wednesday in Alcácer do Sal to mark the start of activity of the Immediate Life Support (SIV) ambulance site of the National Institute of Medical Emergency (INEM), also referred to the health safety rules for the schools for the coming school year.

“We issued and published a reference of schools that, as the name says, have guidelines for schools” and that the Government sought “to be as much as possible adjusted to last year”, he said.

“Why? Because the entire school community already has it very integrated. It is a formation that is very noticeable and, therefore, we only made small adjustments, depending on what is also the epidemiological evolution” and “the vaccination process”, he explained.

The new reference of the General Directorate of Health (DGS) was announced on Tuesday, bringing little news: in addition to the guidelines for prophylactic isolation, which were made more flexible, allowing low-risk contacts or those with a negative test to return to school soon, rules like the mask use, the physical distance or the carrying out of screenings will be to maintain.

“In some situations we tried”, with “some measures of flexibility, power in certain circumstances mitigate the most restrictive measures”, noted the government official, alluding to the confinement and prophylactic isolation, in which what is going to be done is, “within what is possible, to mitigate that a group can go home”.

“That’s not the goal. The objective is to identify high-risk contacts, so that high-risk contacts can be isolated”, but, at the same time, “that low-risk contacts, if everything is in compliance”, can be “keep in school” and the class can “continue to function, because what we want is to promote classroom teaching”, he pointed out.

Asked if any could be introduced distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated, Lacerda Sales said that, for the time being, the technical methodology that has been in force will be maintained.

The Secretary of State was also asked if Portugal will follow the example of the Spanish region of Andalusia, where vaccination will be extended to children from zero to 11 years old: “For now, obviously not. We always wait for technical decisions”, then issuing political decisions, he said.

As for the fact that people recovered for another three months may be vaccinated against covid-19, instead of the previous period of six months, the government official estimated that the measure, in this start-up, covers “slightly less” than “300,000 people”, in “open house” modality.