Territorial depopulation and population isolation, as well as the civic behavior of citizens and measures taken in a timely manner, explain, according to several mayors, the absence of cases of Covid-19 in municipalities in the interior of the Centro region.
According to a survey carried out by the Lusa agency, nine municipalities in the districts of Coimbra, Guarda, Castelo Branco and Viseu remained, on Wednesday, without any case of infection with the new coronavirus.
The list includes the municipalities of São João da Pesqueira and Tarouca (Viseu), Pampilhosa da Serra (Coimbra), Mêda (Guarda) and Idanha-a-Nova, Proença-a-Nova, Belmonte, Oleiros and Vila Velha de Ródão, all in the district of Castelo Branco.
Speaking to Lusa, João Lobo, president of the District Civil Protection Commission of Castelo Branco, confirmed the zero cases of infection in the five municipalities of that district.
“All of this also has to do with the social isolation we have been in for many years. This cannot have only negative things. Depopulation, unfortunately, compared to covid-19, has this almost direct connection ”, says the mayor of Proença-a-Nova, about the situation in the municipality he leads.
Even so, João Lobo highlights the work that was done right at the beginning of the pandemic: “We did an important job with the IPSS (private institutions of social solidarity), security forces, firefighters and employees of the municipality. Then, the notices we sent to all locations in the municipality, with audio recordings, and, of course, the faultless behavior of the communities ”, he stresses.
In the neighboring municipality of Vila Velha de Ródão, next to the Tagus river, the Mayor, Luís Pereira, highlights, in a first analysis, the “irreproachable” behavior adopted by citizens as a justification for the absence of cases of illness.
“Analyzing the case of Vila Velha de Ródão, I think that the good results achieved so far are due to civic behavior. The people had an irreproachable behavior ”, maintains the mayor.
Luís Pereira also highlights the taking of measures in a timely manner, not only by the municipality of Vila Velha de Ródão, but also by the Directorate-General for Health.
“I also want to praise the work and the concerted efforts that have been made between the various entities and which helped to make a positive difference,” he emphasizes.
Further north, in Idanha-a-Nova – the fourth most extensive municipality in Portugal, with more than 1,400 square kilometers (km2) in area, but a population that does not reach 10,000 inhabitants and that borders territorial Spain with the east and to the south -, the Mayor, Armindo Jacinto, underlines that “fortunately” the municipality does not register, “until now”, any case of covid-19.
“The merit goes, first of all, to the civic behavior of our citizens, who have been following the guidelines of the health and safety authorities. But the work carried out by the Parish Councils and Unions, especially by the presidents and their executive, has also been fundamental, who have been tireless in supporting their communities, articulating actions and efforts to optimize resources and streamline the implementation of coronavirus prevention measures. ”, Stresses Armindo Jacinto, in response to Lusa.
If in Guarda the only one of the 14 municipalities that have no reported cases is that of Mêda, already in Viseu, Tarouca and São João da Pesqueira, two of the 24 municipalities and both in the north in the district, remain without any case of covid-19 , according to information provided by the two municipalities on Wednesday.
In São João da Pesqueira, the municipality acted preventively, even before the Government declared the State of Emergency.
“We started right away by closing all services and activities that involved contact between people, dispensing people with home teleworking, alternating teams, etc. We started disinfecting the streets, we purchased large quantities of personal protective equipment that we distributed on a large scale through IPSS, firefighters, GNR and even local health services ”, explains the Mayor, Manuel Cordeiro.
More than two months ago, on March 23, the Municipal Emergency Plan was activated, in which measures were identified and defined that São João da Pesqueira considered “essential to the success of the fight” against the new coronavirus.
“And, more importantly, compromising the remaining elements of Civil Protection in an agreement between all of us to act as a team”, adds Manuel Cordeiro, who also highlights, among other measures, “the great awareness of the population for the adoption of responsible behaviors”.
“All this hard work ended up resulting in and creating in people an idea that the problem was more serious than it initially seemed to be, creating the global idea that we had to defend each other, which happened”, emphasizes the mayor .
At Pampilhosa da Serra, there are also no covid-19 infections, after only one positive case recorded in early April, that of a 21-year-old girl living in Coimbra, where she is a nursing intern at an institution, and who visited her family at that time.
On Wednesday, this municipality in the district of Coimbra with 4,500 inhabitants residing in the village and in around a hundred villages scattered over a mountainous area of around 400 km2 – the population increased to 9,000 in two months with the return of many families -, continued without any infection, a situation that makes the Mayor happy, José Brito.
“This result is largely due to the behavior of people in this difficult period,” said José Brito to the Lusa agency.
In his opinion, the municipality “did what it should and the other municipalities did too” to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, says the mayor.