Current status of Portugal as a result of new Coronavirus It is dramatic.
European countries were relatively successful in combating Kovid-19 during the first wave of the epidemic. However, cases have skyrocketed recently. This put a lot of burden on the health system. Field hospitals were opened and patients were to be transferred to health facilities on a Portuguese island. There are even plans to send some patients to other countries.
In the last two weeks of January, the Portuguese recorded the highest Kovid-19 infection rate in the European Union: 1,429.43 per 100 thousand inhabitants, according to data from the European Center for Prevention and Control (ECDC) for their totals (English).
The country also has the highest death rate in the European Union: 247.55 per million inhabitants.
In January, Portugal recorded its saddest data since the onset of the epidemic: 5,576 people died (44.6% of total cases were recorded) and 306,838 infected (42.6% of the total).
As of last Monday (01/02) in the first cases recorded in early 2020, Portugal already has 12.7 thousand deaths and 726.3 thousand infected with the new coronovirus.
Health officials and experts attribute the increase in cases and deaths to two main factors: the expansion of the British version of the new coronavirus, which is more contagious, and a greater relapse of social isolation during the holidays.
There are hospitals in the state of disaster in many parts of the country with 10 million inhabitants. The landscape is particularly dramatic in the Lisbon region, accounting for half of Portugal’s total infections and deaths.
An example of a dramatic situation are images of lines of ambulances in health units waiting hours for a new bed for Kovid’s patients.
Last week, three people could not find a place in field hospitals and were to be transferred by helicopter to the island of Madeira in Portugal – the archipelago located more than 960 km from the Lisbon region, where the patients were initially located.
The public health system in Portugal has 850 beds in intensive care units (ICUs) for people with Kovid-19. There are also 420 beds for patients with other diseases.
With a total of 865 patients with Kovid-19 in intensive care and 6,800 in clinical beds, Portuguese hospitals are without beds. In addition, there is also a shortage of doctors and nurses.
Many Portuguese health professionals went to other European countries, mainly the United Kingdom, where there are better salaries.
The holiday season, “pandemic fatigue” and British stress
In the first wave of cases, Kovid-19 had a much lower rate than countries around Portugal. Now, the big question is how did the country get to the current situation?
For public health experts, there are some factors that explain the current situation. One of them is a connection in social relations during year-end leave – a period when the movement was allowed throughout the region and there were no limits regarding family reunification – and the spread of British coronovirus ancestry.
“In November, we had acceptable values for the incidence of new cases. There were no uncontrolled figures,” Carla Nunes, director of the National School of Public Health, told in Universidad Nova de Lisboa.
“What we believe has happened is that people have made small changes in their behavior, and are more permissible,” says Nunes in an interview with BBC Mundo (BBC’s Spanish service).
Elisabeth Ramos, a professor at the Institute of Public Health at the University of Porto, explains that activities during the holiday season, which she highlights, are considered important to local culture, the most relevant factors to explain the dramatic increase in cases Are one of Country.
Experts say the current scenario is also affected by the cold, forcing people to close the open environment that the public receives – facilitating the transmission of the virus.
Ramos explains that there is also an “epidemic fatigue” that causes people to follow restrictive measures less often.
“Everyone is fatigued. Although the restrictive measures are the same, we do not see the same level of imprisonment on the streets as last March was,” he explains.
“This is the downside of having good results so far: we have reduced the perception of risk and we believe that we can break some rules because nothing will happen.”
“(Portuguese) were very responsible (in the spring) because they were frightened by what had happened in Spain and Italy”, recites the tune. “People were ready to lose what they had to lose because it was them or death. This notion is no longer that way.”
“It all came with the new version, which at the time (at the end of the year) we didn’t know about its presence in Portugal”, Nunes says.
At Christmas, many Portuguese who migrated to the United Kingdom usually return to their country of origin, as the British are home to the Portuguese country.
“At the time when a lot of people were returning, there were no special measures at (Portuguese) airports … what was happening was a little hidden (about the new version)”, says Nunes.
On 28 January, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa stated that the British version of the new coronovirus already had a prevalence of 32% nationwide and accounted for 50% of cases in Lisbon alone.
In mid-January, Portugal suspended flights from the United Kingdom and Brazil, as a new strain of coronovirus was discovered at the beginning of the year in Manaus (AM). At least until the beginning of this week, Portugal had no record of the Brazil or South Africa version.
The current situation has asked the Portuguese government for help abroad. Germany and Austria have already answered the call.
The German Ministry of Defense announced on Sunday (31/01) that it would send a team of doctors to Portugal.
According to a statement from the German Ministry, an aircraft with 26 doctors and nurses and 50 artificial lawmakers will leave for Lisbon on Wednesday (03/02).
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced that the country would receive Portuguese patients who needed intensive care.
Kuraj wrote, “European solidarity is needed quickly and unhindered to help the bureaucracy to save lives. Austria has already accepted intensive care patients during epidemics in France, Italy and Montenegro. And now it is Portugal’s Will also accept intensive care patients. ” On his Twitter profile.
The underscritary of Antonio Lacerda Sales, Portugal’s state hospitals and health, admitted last Monday that patients were likely to be taken to other countries if Portugal’s hospitals were unable to visit them.
Experts heard by BBC Mundo believe that the Portuguese health system has reacted well since the onset of the epidemic and only at the present time has it reached its limits.
Says Ramos, “The reduction of the health system – in relation to beds and health professionals – is common to all countries, as the needs group is growing.” “With such a huge impact, it was easy for our system to malfunction,” he says.
“But, in fact, it has been very well adjusted, because throughout the year we have been searching for solutions and only this time it is at its limit”.
Hardening of measures
Facing the current situation, Portuguese authorities opted for new measures of social isolation to prevent the spread of a new wave of coronovirus.
Since 15 January, officials have stepped up the country’s health measures. Last Sunday, the action became even more drastic to ensure that the Portuguese stayed home.
Residents can only leave their homes for activities such as working – unless telecommunications is possible -, buying essentials, going to the doctor, helping the elderly or dependents, playing outdoor sports alone and taking less time, which During that time it is forbidden to stay in parks or sit on benches.
The government has increased police surveillance and may require proof of residence of agents to prove to people that they are walking around their homes.
The schools have been closed since January 22, when classes were suspended for 15 days.
In addition, the Portuguese will not be able to leave for 14 days by any means (air, land, rail, sea, or river) other than returning to their home, living abroad, or being close to their family.
The current situation has caused Portugal to reestablish land border control with Spain. Despite this, both countries guarantee that it is not a question of closing borders, but of establishing boundaries.
With regard to airports control, passengers from other countries with more than 500 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants must present a PCR test with a negative result currently made 72 hours before departure and 14 days after arrival in the country. Should remain in quarantine.
To renew the state of emergency last week, the country’s president, Marcello Rebelo de Susa, recently re-elected, called for responsibility.
“What we do until March will determine what will happen in spring, in summer and who knows, even in fall.”