Cracks in political unity but health minister refutes categorically that Lisbon virus spike ‘out of control’

Cracks in political unity over the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak in Portugal have become apparent over the last few days, but health minister Marta Temido is adamant: the spike in the number of cases in the Lisbon and Vale do Tejo region is a long way from being out of control.

Indeed, the number of beds available for patients suffering the worst effects of the new virus is not even at its limit.

The trouble, nonetheless, is that new cases are being highlighted in the press all the time.

Old people’s homes are suddenly taking much more of a ‘battering’ in terms of numbers testing positive – and indeed deaths (see below) – and today there is talk of a fish-canning factory in the north with 12 of the 170 members of staff affected.

Needless to say, nationwide ‘deaths’ reported daily at the coronavirus press briefings have remained low, but there is definite ‘unease’ in the air, which authorities are attempting to tackle as effectively as possible.

Lisbon mayor Fernando Medina has been calling for the dismissal of ‘heads of department’, including Marta Temido and the number one at the DGS health authority Graça Freitas.

PSD leader Rui Rio has backed the call, but for now both are staying in place – with Marta Temido rejecting the necessity for criticism at all.

She told SIC television news that what is happening in Lisbon can be described as a ‘persistent plateau with difficulties in breaking chains of transmission’.

That said – and taking into account the pressure on two inner city hospitals (Amadora Sintra and Beatriz Ângelo) – occupation in intensive care units has never exceeded 63%.

Yes there are questions to answer as to how Lisbon got into this predicament, and how it is going to get out of it – but she said there was absolutely no justification in trying to lay the blame on the DGS health authority (or anyone within it), or in labelling those in charge as ‘incompetent’.

SIC did stress however that whatever the situation, staff on the frontline have now been hard at work trying to recover as many seriously-ill patients as possible for four months. They are, they are, en-masse, exhausted.

Critics too have said Portugal was ‘not prepared for a pandemic’. Very few European countries were, but Portugal has always accepted this criticism and still insists it is ‘doing its best’.

Virus-blighted care home loses 40-year-old orderly

A care-home affected by a coronavirus outbreak has announced the death of a 40-year-old orderly.

The woman was the first member of staff at the Fundação Maria Inácia Vogado Perdigão Silva in the Alentejan town of Reguengos de Monsaraz to test positive for the virus, and she represents the 6th death as a result of the current outbreak. All the other deaths have been in much more elderly residents of the home.

As has been explained throughout this pandemic, very few ‘young people’ in Portugal have died from Covid-19. There have been only two deaths of people in their 20s, and two of people in their 30s. The 40-49 year age bracket has now been responsible for 18 deaths – and from there numbers increase dramatically: in the 50-59-year age bracket there have been 50 deaths in the last four months; in the 60-69, 144. The rest of the country’s 1,579 deaths have been in the 70 and 80-plus age groups.

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