Portugal Weighing Lockdown for Lisbon as COVID Cases Double in 2 Weeks

Portugal is weighing lockdown restrictions for its capital Lisbon as national COVID-19 cases more than doubled in two weeks compared to numbers three weeks ago.

Out of almost 1,500 new COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday in Portugal, two-thirds of the infections are from the Lisbon region. The Portuguese government will likely announce new restrictions for Lisbon on Thursday, the Associated Press reported. On weekends, traveling into and out of Lisbon is banned.

"We are not learning through this experience what we need to do better in the future," a report by health experts for the Portuguese Observatory of Health Systems said. The report examined the government's response to the pandemic.

Experts believe the surge of COVID-19 cases in Lisbon is due to the delta variant and attribute around over 70 percent of the infections to the strain.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Tourists Wearing Masks in Portugal
Mask-clad tourists walk in Praça do Comercio during COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic on Monday in Lisbon, Portugal. Portugal is weighing lockdown measures for Lisbon as COVID-19 cases more than doubled in two weeks. Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images

The Lisbon region's surge in COVID-19 cases is powering ahead, with new infections pushing Portugal's daily new cases to a four-month high as a report finds fault with the government's pandemic response.

The capital region is home to 2.8 million people. Three people died in Portugal of COVID-19 over 24 hours.

The national 14-day cumulative COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people has risen to 130.

The pressure on hospitals remains manageable, with 437 virus patients admitted and 100 in intensive care. Policing on travel into and out of Lisbon last weekend was patchy.

The government is widely expected to announce new restrictions for Lisbon after a Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

To step up the pace of vaccinations, authorities on Wednesday reopened an inoculation center at Lisbon University's sports stadium that is being operated by the Portuguese armed forces. Beginning Monday, a walk-in vaccination center will open in the capital's riverside neighborhood of Alcântara.

Meanwhile, the head of the national vaccination task force said he hopes to hit the target of 70 percent of the population inoculated by the third week of August.

That is later than the initial plan, which was to reach the goal in early summer, but Rear Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo said Portugal is receiving fewer vaccine doses than the 130,000 jabs a day it can administer.

Also Wednesday, the report said there was "a worrying absence of drawing conclusions from what went wrong," in regard to Portugal's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic

The Portuguese Observatory of Health Systems groups current and former public health chiefs. The report said it was good the country's main political parties stood together and the Portuguese mostly complied with the rules on social distancing and mask-wearing.

But it said politicians pressured health experts to give them recommendations that were more politically "convenient" and that the National Council for Public Health was barely used and is severely underfunded. Also, it said, authorities have not activated two specialist units to improve the country's pandemic response.

Woman Wears Mask in Lisbon, Portugal
People sit a cafe terrace in downtown Lisbon on June 4. Britain said Thursday it is removing Portugal from its list of COVID-safe travel destinations, meaning thousands of U.K. residents currently on vacation there face the prospect of 10 days' quarantine on return. Armando Franca/AP Photo