Health experts see Portugal's virus surge easing

 Portuguese health experts say there are signs that the country's recent surge in COVID-19 infections is running out of steam, as political leaders consider whether to start winding down pandemic restrictions.

Senior members of the government met Tuesday with virus analysts who said in televised comments that, though infection rates remain high, the increase is slowing and the surge's peak is close.

Portugal's infection rate per 100,000 population over 14 days is above 400. In the hard-hit capital Lisbon and the southern Algarve tourist region, the infection rate is stabilising.

The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care has been rising since the start of the month, with the occupancy rate of beds set aside for the pandemic now at 78 per cent.

The delta variant has in recent weeks accounted for almost 99 per cent of cases.

Portugal's government is expected to decide at a Cabinet meeting Thursday whether to relax some limits on gatherings, amid complaints from owners of restaurants and bars that they are losing money.

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