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Coronavirus: Portugal grants temporary citizenship rights to migrants

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A man rides his motorbike in Lisbon
A man rides his motorbike in Lisbon   -   Copyright  AP
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The Portuguese government is granting citizenship rights to all migrants and asylum seekers who have residency applications underway.

The move is intended to ensure everybody who needs it has access to social security and health care while the country battles the spread and effects of coronavirus.

On Sunday the total number of infections in Portugal stood at 5,962, with 119 deaths - including that of a 14-year-old boy who had underlying health issues.

Police have been stepping up surveillance measures to enforce social distancing, with the use of drones in Porto and Lisbon.

And in the capital, the army is distributing food to the homeless, as the country attempts to battle the coronavirus that has caused lockdowns around the world.

Those who are in the process of applying for citizenship will be granted citizenship rights until at least July 1, the government announced on Saturday.

Applauding the decision, Richard Danziger, a regional director of UN Migration, said Regional Director, said: “People should not be deprived of their rights to health and public service just because their application has not yet been processed.”

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Eduardo Cabrita, said it is "important to guarantee the rights of the most fragile, as is the case of immigrants".

"It is a duty of a society of solidarity in times of crisis to ensure that immigrant citizens have access to health and social security," he explained.