Patients being treated at the ICU department at Porto’s Hospital de São João on October 26. Photo: ESTELA SILVA/LUSA

Covid ‘numbers’ Sunday scream “Portugal’s hospitals with highest number of patients yet…”

Sunday’s Covid numbers are bringing little joy: another 37 deaths (a little down on the last couple of days), ‘only’ 3,062 new cases of infection (but we are told this is almost certainly down to the fact that testing is less robust at weekends); a record number of patients in infirmaries (2,122) and 284 people in ICUs (which is in fact two less than yesterday’s total).

These numbers come thick and fast every 24-hours and are faithfully repeated by all news media.

Other stories today have reported ‘the first Covid death in Madeira’. This was a 97-year-old woman with “various associated comorbidities” who had even so managed to massively exceed the average lifespan. During a flu epidemic, a death of this kind would never have been reported. But the ‘situation of a global pandemic’ appears to have ‘changed everything’ to the extent that we are drip-fed ‘terrible news’ after ‘terrible news’, and no one appears to question anything or try to explain it from a different angle.

What is ‘bobbing to the surface’ now – even in the Algarve – are stories of Covid deaths that ‘definitely were not Covid deaths’.

A reader today has written in to tell a ‘first hand account’ of a conversation he had in an Albufeira pet shop. The assistant told him “about an elderly couple where the wife died of a heart attack. No Covid. None at all. Yet the death certificate stated Covid as the cause of death. The elderly man is left confused and nobody listens to him”.

Nobody would listen to us, either. And any inquiries in this direction would almost certainly come up against the closed door marked ‘data protection’.

Reports agree that today’s death toll involved “in the main victims over the age of 80” (24 of them). There were also deaths in the age brackets 70-79 (9), 60-69 (2), 50-59 (2) – but there is never any information about victims’ comorbidities. What can also be said is that there is almost never a report in Portugal of a victim who died having been ‘fighting fit’ before contracting Covid-19.

Sunday’s totals show the situation remains with the north of the country showing the worst ‘results’: 1,616 new cases. Lisbon registering 876 new infections; the Centre 430; the Alentejo 74 and the Algarve 59. Again no information is ever given on how many of these new cases are asymptomatic.

With the welter of ‘shock, horror headlines’ some more considered texts get sidelined. For example, Observador reported last week that hospital admissions ‘with no sign of Covid’ are being sent to casualty departments creating unnecessary pressure on doctors and healthcare staff, and taking away vital attention from patients who really are sick.

As a result, some truly ill patients with chronic issues are only getting seen by doctors when their clinical situation has reached “the final stages of illness”.

This leads on to the whole issue of ‘excess deaths’ in this pandemic – deaths that have been recorded but which have no apparent connection with Covid (click here)

Says Observador, deaths from Covid-19 between March 2 and October 18 only explain 27.5% of excess deaths in Portugal. Many would argue the remaining 72.5% have died because of the way governments and health services have geared their nations’ ‘response’ to the pandemic.