A 47-year-old businesswoman with an autoimmune disease has discovered just how prepared health services are for the arrival on national soil of possible cases of Covid-19.
The mother-of-one returned to her home in Beiras region, near Cantanhede, from Italy on Wednesday, and realising she had a temperature, called the 24-hour health ‘hotline’.
She has told reporters she was instructed to go to the local health centre (something authorities have been telling people worried they may have the virus NOT to do).
When she arrived – at 9.30 in the morning – she was locked in a lavatory.
And there she remained until 4pm.
During her time in the lavatory the woman telephoned her local newspaper, As Beiras, which has written an exclusive report on the ordeal and the woman’s feelings about it.
Throughout the long hours in which she was locked up, the woman was offered “a yoghurt, some biscuits and very few explanations”.
In the middle of the afternoon, she was informed that “she could go home, without having to undergo any tests, because the centre hadn’t been authorised by the general directorate of health (DGS) to carry them out”.
Said As Beiras, “the case was not considered suspect”.
It’s unclear whether the woman still has fever or whether she has made a full recovery, but it is an indication that Portugal’s level of preparedness may not be perfect, or indeed sufficient.
As Bruce Aylward, physician and public health expert with the World Health Organisation admitted on Tuesday, the world “simply isn’t ready” for a rapidly-spreading unknown virus.