LISBON, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa proposed to the parliament on Wednesday to renew the "state of emergency" in the country until March 16, foreseeing a "reopening done in phases" based on the recommendations from experts as well as objective data.
"Unfortunately, the situation of public calamity caused by the pandemic COVID-19 continues," said the president in a note posted on the website of the Presidency of the Republic.
"It is not recommended by experts to immediately reduce or suspend the restriction measures without the numbers falling below levels manageable by the National Health Service and increasing the rates of testing and surveillance of new variants," he said.
The president added that a deconfinement should only occur when "vaccination can cover a significant part of the most vulnerable population for COVID-19, contributing to a growing group immunity."
"It is, therefore, necessary to renew the state of emergency once again, to allow the Government to continue to take the most appropriate measures to combat this phase of the pandemic," said the president.
He stressed that "the measures taken are having the desired positive health effects, with a significant reduction in new cases, as well as in the transmission rate, although the average incidence remains quite high, as well as the number of hospitalizations and deaths."
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in many countries including Portugal with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 255 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 73 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Tuesday.