LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Hopes are rising in Portugal that the worst of a devastating pandemic surge might be over, as the number of COVID-19 deaths reported Monday was the lowest in three weeks. The country’s pandemic picture is mixed, however. Hospital admissions rose for the first time in a week, but the advance of COVID-19 has by some metrics been slowing since the end of January. Portugal, blaming the sudden fast spread on a COVID-19 variant first identified in England, went into lockdown on Jan. 15. Portugal became the world’s worst-hit country last month compared to its population, with a deluge of daily deaths and new infections.