The Island of Corvo has returned to pre-pandemic life as nearly all of its population has received both their two vaccine shots.
Life on the small and lush green Portuguese island of Corvo has returned to normal as a major part of the population has been voluntarily vaccinated against coronavirus.
Remote Corvo is the smallest and the northernmost island of the Azores archipelago. It is located hundreds of kilometres from continental Europe, in the North Atlantic Ocean.
The island, home to 400, appears to have escaped from the devastating pandemic, which has globally killed more than 2.68 million people.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, just one Covid-19 positive case was recorded on the island. The Covid-19 carrier was a Corvo resident who had returned from mainland Europe after Christmas.
According to Corvo's only doctor, Antonio Salgado, the island will soon reach herd immunity.
“There’s an atmosphere of celebration in Corvo,” Dr. Salgado told the Lusa news agency
The doctor said the vast majority of the island’s residents were likely to become immune by the end of March. “From now on, we will feel safe,” he said.
Thanks to a small community vaccination campaign, the island’s authorities finished vaccinating 322 people on Friday, using the second dose of the Pfizer&BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. This is equal to nearly 85 percent of its population.
The remoteness of Corvo would normally have proven a disadvantage given that inhabitants sometimes suffer from vital supplies of basic goods.
62-year-old Dr. Salgado, who arrived in Corvo less than a year ago, has grown accustomed to occasional shortages and has learnt to make homemade yoghurt.
"This makes up for all the difficulties we experience daily," he said.
An immunised territory
Portugal decided to vaccinate a majority of 400 inhabitants of the island without moving through priority groups, which means all those aged over 16 were included in the campaign.
Local health official Clelio Meneses explained that the number of jabs needed to immunise Corvo would not affect rollouts elsewhere in the Azores.
"The only responsible thing to do was to vaccinate the whole population in one go to create an immunised territory," he said.
With only one ventilator on the island and no hospital beds at all, an outbreak there could have been devastating.
"We were very afraid that someone would come and contaminate all of us, like off a boat," said Goreti Melo, one of the island's two nurses.
"The spread would've been disastrous and very rapid," said mayor Jose Manuel Silva, who recalled that some of his constituents wanted the island to be closed off.
"We only have one bakery so inevitably we all go to the same places."
There is no public restriction on the 17-square-kilometre island where people can meet in cafes and restaurants.
Generally, the sources of income are fishing and tourism, but the pandemic has seen off foreign visits from tourists for now.
Although Corvo residents enjoy living away from Covid-19, the pandemic left the island vulnerable and unable to depend on any outside help.