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Portugal goes into a stalemate amid rising record-breaking virus

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A sense of hope driven by recent use of COVID-19 vaccines has encouraged people to give up and makes the pandemic even more dangerous, Costa said at a news conference.

Under the terms of the connection, staying at home will be mandatory, including work, and fines for non-compliance with rules such as wearing street masks will be doubled, the prime minister said.

Schools need to stay open, along with companies that provide essential services. Financial assistance will be provided to businesses that need to close, such as restaurants, cinemas and hair salons.

Portuguese health authorities on Wednesday reported 10,556 new confirmed cases and 156 virus-related deaths in 24 hours, both national figures. Previous recordings have been destroyed in recent days. Health experts predict that the number of new daily cases will peak within a week.

Portugal, which launched a vaccination program in the last week of December, has officially registered more than 8,200 deaths from the coronavirus.

Its 14-day case rate per 100,000 inhabitants is 517, according to the European Center for Disease Control. This puts Portugal in 12th place in the table of 31 countries monitored by the European Union agency.

A week ago, the 14-day rate was 466.

The next presidential election is scheduled to take place as political leaders praised a constitutional change that would allow a very difficult postponement to be written and passed in a short span of time.

National travel restrictions approved under the current state of emergency will be lifted for one day on January 17, when early voting will be allowed, and on election day.

In other emergency measures, more polling stations than usual will be available to deter crowds. For the same reason, candidates are favoring online rallies instead of more traditional events.

Health officials will be available to collect people’s votes in nursing homes and those in isolation.

A long tradition will also be removed: string-hung pens in polling booths for people to mark their ballots will not be provided. Voters must bring their own pens.

Incumbent candidate Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who is expected to win a second five-year term as head of the Portuguese state, has returned to work after two negative tests followed a positive test on Monday.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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