The omicron sub-variant BA.5 is causing a renewed increase in the number of corona cases in Portugal. The variant, which was first detected in Portugal at the end of March, is now the predominant variant in the EU country after a strong spread, said a spokesman for the Portuguese health institute Insa on Wednesday. It is now responsible for almost 80 percent of all reported new infections in Portugal.

In Portugal, the number of corona cases has recently increased again. Between May 10 and 16, the authorities registered 157,502 new cases – 58 percent more than in the previous week. Experts also assume a high number of unreported cases.

“In reality, there could be twice as many cases,” said the President of the Association of Public Health Physicians, Gustavo Tato Borges. According to him, the number of deaths increased again in the second week of May.

The spread of BA.5 was apparently accelerated by the lifting of many corona measures. In Portugal, the mask requirement indoors has been lifted since April 21. Masks only have to be worn in public transport and medical facilities such as hospitals. In order to stop the rise again, the government has decided to offer free rapid tests in pharmacies again.