(Adds measures, background)
LISBON, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Portugal announced on Thursday that three northern municipalities will go under partial lockdown to fight a surge of coronavirus infections.
From Friday, around 161,000 residents in the municipalities of Felgueiras, Lousada and Pacos de Ferreira will only be able to leave home for work, school or other essential activities such as buying food and medicine.
Those able to work from home must do so, visits to care homes will be banned, events can only be attended by a maximum of five people and commercial outlets must close by 10 p.m..
“These measures are due to the evolution of the pandemic in these three municipalities,” Cabinet Minister Mariana Viera da Silva told a news conference.
Portugal, with just over 10 million people, has recorded a comparatively low 106,271 cases and 2,229 deaths. But, like in most European countries, infection have risen in recent weeks.
Last Friday, Portugal hit 2,608 cases, the highest daily figure since the pandemic started, although testing has also increased. A set of new, tougher measures to contain the disease came into force last week.
Most of the new cases are concentrated in the northern region and in and around the capital Lisbon.
“It is expected the number of cases will increase in coming days and we have in some areas of the country a complex epidemiological situation that can be minimised with some measures,” said Health Minister Marta Temido.
In Portugal as a whole, a so-called state of calamity is in place, meaning gatherings are limited to five people, weddings and baptisms can be attended by a maximum of 50 and university parties are banned.
Vieira da Silva said movement between different municipalities across the whole nation will be prohibited between Oct. 30 and Nov. 3 to reduce risk during the All Saints national holiday. (Reporting by Catarina Demony, Victoria Waldersee and Sergio Goncalvez; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Andrew Cawthorne)
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