Frau in Portugal fotografiert mit Maske

Health system on the verge of collapse: Portugal with the highest rate of new corona infections worldwide


Portugal has long tried to avoid a hard lockdown. Instead, the Portuguese government tried to the last to keep as many economic sectors and less affected districts as possible open, at least in parts. Tougher measures were implemented using a four-step concept, taking the incidences into account. But it quickly became apparent that only very few districts remained below the target values ​​and that the number of new infections has exploded all over the country – especially since the Christmas holidays.

Show that the data from Our World in Data. The basis is the average new infections per day per million inhabitants in the past seven days. Here Portugal reaches a value of almost 1000.

The number of unreported cases could even be much higher, some experts fear. Reason: Portugal only has limited testing capacity. The country manages around 50,000 tests every day. In view of the situation, the resources are insufficient to identify asymptomatic infections across the board and to proactively contain the infection process.

The health system is already on the verge of collapse, as most of the intensive care beds are already occupied. According to TRAVELBOOK calculations, the 7-day incidence is currently 724.68. There are a total of 143,776 active Covid-19 infections in the country.

After the north was the most severely affected region for weeks, the greater Lisbon area has once again become the hotspot for infection. The 7-day incidence is currently 826.78.

Corona situation in Portugal – table of contents

  • The applicable measures / regulations
  • Current infection situation in Portugal
  • What applies to returnees from Portugal
  • Do I have to be in quarantine if I enter Portugal from Germany?
  • Portugal’s corona insurance for travelers

The applicable corona measures in Portugal

The health emergency currently applies in Portugal, which has already been extended several times and is now set to last until January 30th. The so-called “estado de emergência” had already been proclaimed in the spring and is associated with some major restrictions and obligations for citizens – including holidaymakers. It also enables the government to impose numerous other measures. These include the Possibility of mandatory measurement of body temperature, for example at work, in passenger traffic, in educational institutions, shopping centers, sports and cultural facilities, as well as the Possibility to make corona tests mandatory and to request them (e.g. when entering and leaving the country, in health and educational institutions, nursing homes and prisons).

In addition, the government can request the necessary resources from the private and social sectors for measures and activate certain groups of people to support contact tracing, for example teachers who are currently not used for teaching or soldiers.

What the hard lockdown in Portugal means

Essentially, the tough lockdown in Portugal includes the same regulations as in spring: Almost all shops have to close, with the exception of those institutions that are important for public life and guarantee basic services to the population. Compared to the spring lockdown, there is one crucial difference: daycare centers, schools and universities remain open. Otherwise, i.a. the following measures:

  • There is a general curfew. Grocery shopping, visits to the pharmacy or other important errands (visits to the doctor, caring for relatives, etc.) are possible.
  • Obligation to work from home wherever possible
  • Increase in penalties for violating rules
  • Closure of hairdressing and beauty salons, fitness studios and cultural institutions (theaters, cinemas, museums, etc.)
  • Closure of clubs, zoos, theme parks and casinos
  • Restaurants, bars and cafes are only allowed to offer an out-of-home service.
  • Individual sport remains possible.
  • Top division sports and sports at national level are allowed, but without an audience.

The following rules and obligations also apply

  • General mask requirement outdoors
  • Obligation to use a Mouth and nose protection in public transport and shops.
  • Maintain a minimum distance of two meters in public spaces.
  • Urgent recommendation to install the Corona warning app “Stayaway Covid” (Google play | Apple App Store).
  • Consumption of alcohol in public is prohibited.
  • No sale of alcoholic beverages at petrol stations.

The corona infection situation in Portugal

The 7-day incidence in Portugal

There are currently a total of 143,776 active Covid-19 infections in Portugal. The 7-day incidence in Portugal by region at a glance according to TRAVELBOOK calculations:

  • Portugal as a whole (including Azores and Madeira): 724.68
  • Greater Lisbon: 826.78
  • North: 653.38
  • Algarve: 526.39
  • Azores: 151.55
  • Madeira: 259.58

Also interesting: Portugal – the 11 most beautiful beaches in the Algarve

The RKI classifies a country or region as a risk area in a two-stage process: “First of all, it is determined in which states / regions there were more than 50 newly infected people per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days,” says the RKI Page. In a second step, qualitative criteria are used to determine whether there is a risk of an increased risk of infection for countries / regions that nominally fall below the specified limit value. Criteria are:

  • Infection numbers
  • Type of outbreak (localized or extensive)
  • Test capacities and tests carried out per inhabitant
  • measures taken to contain the infection process
  • Reliability of the information

Which applies to those returning from Portugal

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), all of Portugal has been a corona risk area since January 9. The Foreign Office issued a travel warning.

Anyone who has been in a risk area such as Portugal in the last ten days before entering Germany must go directly to a ten-day quarantine at home. Leaving the apartment or receiving visitors is not permitted. Before entering the country, you are also required to register digitally. This is done on the website and serves to enable the health authorities to monitor the quarantine requirement. After registering on the site, you will receive a PDF file as confirmation. Airlines, for example, are obliged to check whether such a confirmation is available. If not, the flight cannot be taken. In exceptional cases a Replacement notification in paper form possible.

After entry, health authorities have the option of requesting a negative corona test, it says on the side of the Federal Ministry of Health. If one is not available, one can be obliged to take the test.

Important: Even if the test is negative, the quarantine at home cannot be ended until five days at the earliest.

Do I have to be in quarantine if I enter Portugal from Germany?

There are currently no restrictions for holidaymakers from Germany when they visit mainland Portugal. Means: no obligation to quarantine or to have a corona test.

In order to be able to ensure contact tracing, passengers entering the south-western European country by air must use a “Passenger Locator” form to provide information on the destination and accessibility during their stay. In addition, body temperature is measured at the airport by infrared cameras. If this exceeds 38 degrees, travelers must expect further examinations and quarantine.

Different regulations apply to the Azores and Madeira: For example, a negative corona test that is not older than 72 hours is required upon entry. If you don’t have a test, you can do it on arrival and must remain in quarantine until the test result.

Corona insurance for travelers to Portugal

What does the insurance include?

Since Portugal is heavily dependent on tourism, the country now also offers travelers corona insurance for a fee – in cooperation with the company Bónus Seguros. The insurance takes effect in the event of “unforeseen events in connection with Covid-19” and enables reimbursements in the event of flight cancellations or interruptions, according to the Portuguese or English-language website of Portugal Travel Insurance. However, if you take a closer look at the services included, you will notice that they are kept quite general. For example, support is guaranteed in the event of luggage theft in Portugal – which has nothing to do with Covid-19.

More relevant for holidaymakers are the services listed under “Full coverage in the event of unforeseen situations”. In the event of illness, the insurance offers:

  • Medical and hospital costs covered in Portugal
  • Coverage of aftercare costs in the event of a hospital stay
  • Cover for return travel costs in the event of illness or accident

Corona insurance prices for Portugal

The cost of the insurance depends on the length of stay in Portugal.

  • up to 10 days: 37.20 euros per person
  • 10 to 15 days: 43.20 euros per person
  • 16 to 30 days: 48.20 euros per person
  • 30 to 60 days: 65.20 euros per person

“The Portuguese are no longer as disciplined as they were in spring”

“I am currently only experiencing the situation in Portugal from afar, but I am in regular contact with my family who live there. My mother experiences the situation on site as more and more “dramatic”. For months she has rarely left the house to go to the supermarket. She has not met the relatives since the summer. But not all Portuguese recently followed the rule of limiting contacts so strictly. Many families met, especially on Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The consequences of this can now be seen in the very high numbers of infections. One must also be critical of the hesitant action of the Portuguese government in recent months. In order not to plunge the country’s economy deeper into the crisis, the decision was made to enter into a hard lockdown much too late. In the worst case, there is a threat of both: the economic collapse and that of the health system. “- Nuno Alves, Editorial Director TRAVELBOOK