LISBON, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- Portugal's parliament approved on Thursday President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa's proposal to renew the state of emergency in the country until March 16, allowing the government to keep the same lockdown rules already in place to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Tempting it may be to reopen the country now as soon as possible," but it is important "not to rush into it and repeat the health crisis," the president said Thursday in a national speech.
Although the number of infections has dropped in recent weeks, pressures remain high on hospitals, with the numbers of patients hospitalized with symptoms and hospitalized in intensive care units both doubling experts' recommendations, he said.
"The economy and society are undergoing a profound crisis ... Mental health is increasingly undermined. Schools see the second academic year run over," he noted, adding there have also been delays in the delivery of vaccines, which will affect vaccination in the next month and a half.
It is necessary to "guarantee the fastest and broadest vaccination and testing" starting with schools before a gradual reopening, he said.
According to the epidemiological bulletin released by the Portuguese Directorate-General for Health (DGS), Portugal registered 1,160 COVID-19 infections and 49 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising the country's total caseload and death toll to 801,746 and 16,185 respectively.
There were 2,613 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the country, the lowest since Nov. 8, of whom 536 were still in intensive care units, according to the DGS.
The Portuguese health authorities also reported the recovery of another 2,659 people. Now a total of 711,713 people have recovered from the disease since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to the latest data from the DGS, Portugal has administered 752,317 doses of vaccines against COVID-19, which include 497,040 first doses and 255,277 second ones.