Portugal's president to ask parliament to extend COVID-19 emergency

LISBON, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said on Thursday he would ask parliament to back an extension of a state of emergency imposed to combat the spread of the coronavirus for an additional 15 days from next week.

The nationwide state of emergency, which came into force on Nov. 9, includes a night-time curfew and a half-day lockdown on weekend days across 191 of Portugal’s 308 municipalities.

It is due to expire on Nov. 23 but lawmakers are likely to approve the president’s request for an extension on Friday. Under Portuguese law, the state of emergency is limited to 15 days but can be extended indefinitely in 15-day periods.

“Prevention is essential and begins with each one of us,” Rebelo de Sousa told reporters after meeting health experts, adding it was now important to adjust measures to address the level of risk in each of the country’s municipalities.

A tiered system of coronavirus restrictions is on the table but the government said earlier on Thursday it would only announce new measures on Saturday.

Portugal, with around 10 million people, has recorded 236,015 coronavirus infections and 3,632 deaths, relatively low figures compared to some European countries, but infections have been rising and are putting the health system under pressure. (Reporting by Catarina Demony; Editing by Gareth Jones)