Mystery as first Portuguese showing symptoms of coronavirus ‘disappears’

Covid numbers Portugal: another 40 deaths, 4,656 new cases and 14 among teams that took part in Portimão Grand Prix

As the government considers new measures to come into place to help battle the ongoing pandemic, Portugal’s latest ‘numbers’ point to a rapidly escalating ‘crisis’.

Deaths are up now to 40 in the last 24-hour period. Cases of new infections – albeit using a form of testing that has come under criticism – were pegged at 4,656, while reports stress that 14 people in the Formula 1 ‘teams’ that alighted in Portimão for the Grand Prix last weekend have since tested positive for Covid-19.

In line with the rising numbers, hospital admissions continue to climb – another 93 were admitted in the last 24-hour period. There are also six new patients in ICUs.

The 40 deaths signify the “highest total ever”, explains Diário de Notícias, adding that the previous record was pegged yesterday (33 deaths in 24-hours).

This is the moment where health chiefs are admitting pressure is finally getting to the health service.

Secretary of State for Health Diogo Serra Lopes addressed today’s press conference , saying the weekly average of new cases in the last week has been 3,546, compared to 2,363 and 1,711 pegged in each of the two previous weeks.

These numbers are all of them ‘superior’ to the weekly average of tests clocked in March and April, he said – failing to explain however that the level of testing back then was vastly reduced.

The PCR tests that the SNS health service is using have also come under criticism for not being the best way of trying to detect active carriers. Even experts accept these tests detect the presence of viral genetic material in a sample, but do not necessarily point to whether or not the person who has given that sample is infectious.

Nonetheless, pressure is relentlessly building. Hospitals in the north are running at above 80% capacity for Covid-patients, and media reports are coming in thick and fast fanning a sense of rising panic.

After last weekend’s ‘controversy’ over the crowds attending the F1 races at Portimão’s Algarve International Autodrome, TVI has reported that 14 members of the racing teams that attended have since tested positive for the virus. By coincidence, 15 members of the under-23 Portimão football team have also tested positive after a game with Marítimo de Madeira.

The overall ‘feeling’ coming out of soundbites today is that even though borough lockdowns may not in the end be ‘mandatory’ (click here), it is probably a very good idea to stay ‘at home’ – or as close to home – as possible.