Coronavirus ‘suspect’ in Portugal given ‘all-clear’

The first suspect case of coronavirus in Portugal has been given the ‘all-clear’.

The young man, a resident in this country for a number of years but believed to be Chinese, was in isolation in Lisbon’s Curry Cabral hospital after showing ‘possible symptoms’ of the illness that is sweeping the world.

In a little more than 24 hours, the number of deaths have leapt from 41 to 56, while as many as 2000 have been infected, 324 of whom are said to be in a serious condition.

But the good news, for Portugal at least, is that its first cause for heightened alarm was a false one.

The general directorate of health delivered the news earlier today that laboratory tests at INSA (the Dr Ricardo Jorge institute of health) had come back ‘negative’.

Authorities are nonetheless in “permanent articulation with national and international institutes and organisations” – particularly the World Health Organisation and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control – in order to be able to adopt any measures deemed necessary.

So far, infections have been confirmed in a number of other countries beyond China: namely Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, the United States, Singapore, Vietnam, Nepal, Malaysia, France, Australia and Canada.

The symptoms of this latest strain of the virus, provisionally called 2019.nCoV, are “more intense than a flu”, explain reports, “and include fever, pain, general malaise and difficulties with breathing”.

There are believed to be as many as 20 Portuguese in Wuhan – the Chinese city where this outbreak began – and many of them are anxious to return home. The problem is that the city is in lockdown, and even flights from other locations are insisting passengers should spend two weeks in quarantine before leaving the country.

For now, Portugal is considering all its options – and may well send in a plane for evacuation as the United States is said to be doing.

[email protected]