LISBON: Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who is seeking a second term in an election on Jan 24, has tested positive for COVID-19 but has so far shown no symptoms, his office said on Monday (Jan 11).
The 72-year-old had one major presidential debate scheduled for Tuesday, as well as a meeting with health experts to discuss the details of a planned lockdown to be announced on Wednesday, but his office said he had already cancelled all his public appearances.
In a statement shared on his official website, Rebelo de Sousa's office said the president has already informed Prime Minister Antonio Costa and Health Minister Marta Temido of the situation.
Rebelo de Sousa will self-isolate at his official residence in Lisbon, the statement said.
His positive test result comes after he tested negative on Jan 6 after being in contact with someone who was infected and so resumed his work schedule.
Portugal has suffered record numbers of coronavirus deaths and infections, making a new lockdown unavoidable, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said Monday.
At a Cabinet meeting Wednesday, the government will decide restrictions similar to those imposed during the first lockdown last March, Costa said.
He was speaking after health officials reported a record 122 deaths over the past 24 hours, bringing Portugal's overall toll to 7,965.
On Friday, officials logged a record 10,176 new cases over a 24-hour period.
A total of 3,983 COVID-19 patients are currently in hospital - a new high - including 567 in intensive care.
"We are certainly facing a third wave" of the virus, Costa told journalists Monday.
Health Minister Marta Temido, blaming the recent surge in cases on the Christmas period and the cold snap, said the only solution is to bring down infection levels.
The government will consult public health experts on Tuesday before discussing how best to strengthen the restrictions already in place since early November.