"Despite the indisputable advances we have recorded in combating this pandemic, especially following the success of the vaccination campaign, the epidemiological situation suggests that a robust level of preventive measures should be maintained", says the institution in a statement sent to Lusa.

The foundation maintains that the Delta variant, with a contagion capacity 60% higher than the previous one, and the knowledge that the vaccine is not effective enough to completely prevent either infection or transmission of the virus, justify further measures.

The institution also highlights as “non reassuring” factors the high incidence of cases (310 per 100,000 population, with an average of 2,317 new cases daily in the last week), a high level of active cases (45,542) and a level of mortality “still very active” (daily average of 11 deaths in the last week), together with the levels of hospitalisationa, both in the ward and in intensive care (733 and 151, respectively).

“It is premature to consider the end of the mandatory use of the respiratory protection mask in outdoor public spaces whenever the safety social distance is not guaranteed. In the same sense, it is our opinion that the use of masks should continue to be mandatory in all indoor public spaces”, defends the Fundação Portuguesa do Pulmão.

“The decision to end the use of masks should only be considered when we come out of the fourth epidemic wave, when we have a greater percentage of the population fully vaccinated (the much desired group immunity) and the epidemiological markers of SARS-Cov-2 infection show evidence safer control of the pandemic”, he adds.

The Minister of Health, Marta Temido, stated on the 19th that the decision on the use of masks in the street is the responsibility of the Assembly of the Republic.

The President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, last week argued the end of the mandatory use of the mask only in mid-September and called on young people to be vaccinated against Covid-19 before the beginning of the school year.

Covid-19 has caused at least 4,472,486 deaths worldwide, among more than 214.5 million infections by the new coronavirus registered since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the most recent report by the Agence France-Presse.

In Portugal, since March 2020, 17,711 people have died and 1,033,165 confirmed cases of infection have been recorded, according to data from the General Directorate of Health.

The respiratory disease is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, detected in late 2019 in Wuhan, a city in central China, and currently with variants identified in countries such as the United Kingdom, India, South Africa, Brazil or Peru.