Lisbon to open biggest vaccination site yet amid COVID-19 surge

Preparations underway for the opening of the biggest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination center in Lisbon, Portugal, November 30, 2021. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal will open its biggest vaccination centre yet on Wednesday as a surge in COVID-19 infections forced authorities to impose new restrictions to stop the spread, including strict travel curbs to enter the country by air.

Boasting an 87% vaccination rate, one of the world's highest, Portugal has seen its infection rate and daily cases rise sharply over the past month, although the rate remains below levels seen in countries like Austria or Belgium.

Inaugurated by Lisbon Mayor Carlos Moedas on Tuesday, the new vaccination centre in a pavilion at Parque das Nacoes, a modern area by the River Tagus, will open to the public on Wednesday with the capacity to inoculate 6,000 people per day, a number that could rise to 9,000 if needed.

"This vaccination centre is unique in the country," Moedas told reporters, adding that it would allow the capital city to double its vaccination capacity.

Health authorities are giving COVID-19 booster shots to those aged over 65 and to the most vulnerable, and hope to administer it to a quarter of the population by the end of January.

To tackle the latest surge, the government reimposed mandatory mask-wearing in indoor public spaces, recommended remote work whenever possible and ordered all air passengers, even those vaccinated, to show a negative test on arrival.

Those who have recovered from COVID-19 can use their recovery certificate to travel to Portugal and children aged 12 or below are exempt from the requirement, health authority DGS said on Tuesday.

The measures come into force on Wednesday, Dec. 1.

(Reporting by Catarina Demony, Miguel Pereira and Pedro Nunes; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Janet Lawrence)

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