LISBON, May 11 (Xinhua) -- The COVID-19 reproduction number (R) in Portugal has again reached 1.17, which "very intensely" points to the emergence of a "sixth wave of the pandemic," the country's Higher Technical Institute (IST) said in a report released by the Lusa news agency on Wednesday.
Compared to its previous report dated April 19, the IST working group noted an increase in the likelihood of another wave of the pandemic.
According to the IST, the "abrupt end to face mask mandates" in Portugal "seems to have had a very marked effect on the current increase in COVID-19 cases."
The experts said that the lifting of the mask mandate was a "right measure" only for schools, but it is causing "excessive contagion" in business and corporate environments, where people should return to teleworking.
Portugal dropped the face mask requirement on April 22, except for pharmacies, healthcare and long-term care facilities and on public transportation.
According to the IST, the "significantly worsening trend" of the pandemic in Portugal "will likely contribute" to an increase in mortality in the next 30 days.
"We advise the strengthening of monitoring and conveying the message that the pandemic is not yet over," the report said. ■