Thursday morning saw both the Ordem dos Médicos (doctors association) and SIM (the independent syndicate of doctors) in what looked like an orchestrated attempt to sow seeds of real ‘virus’ panic in the Algarve – just as the region is opening up to receive holidaymakers.
It began with the president of the doctors association of the south suggesting that if the Algarve registered ‘as many as 100 cases’ it would have to ‘close’.
Focus then moved on to the president of the independent syndicate of doctors (himself a centre-right PSD MP) accusing the centre-left government of trying to “sweeten” the numbers of Covid-19 infections by explaining their increase on a robust testing programme.
Shortly after lunch, president of the Algarve health authority Paulo Morgado got hold of the situation, stressing that despite the outbreak of infections in Lagos thanks to a poorly-organised party (click here), right now the region has precisely three people in hospital, and no-one in intensive care.
“I simply do not understand these catastrophic comments”, he said – referring to the warning about having to ‘close the Algarve’ – particularly as regional hospitals have bed space for up to 250 Covid patients at any one time.
Retired cardiologist and specialist in ‘catastrophe medicine’ which she practised for 11 years in Paris, Lourdes Cerol Bandeira has been following the hysteria, publishing her daily report over social media that puts the situation in Lagos ‘into perspective’.
She said “the mealy-mouthed comments from the Doctors Association” could destroy the Algarve economy “and the resurrection of its companies” when numbers in hospitals are in fact consistently coming down.
“How can they come up with these stupid comments?” She railed, suggesting it may simply have been a ruse to be seen to “be important”.
The cases in Portugal right now “are practically all at home”, Cerol Bandeira explains. “Many are in hospital due to the fact that they don’t have conditions for self-isolation where they live. The majority are asymptomatic” – and many had ‘false positives’ in that they almost certainly already had antibodies.
In short, there is no reason for alarm, or what Paulo Morgado describes as statements peppered with “drama”.
The president of ARS-Algarve did acknowledge however that the call for more doctors to come and join teams in the Algarve this summer “hasn’t had the desired effect”, though this too did not appear to be overly-concerning him.
“We have always had very little in the way of reinforcements and there has never been a tragedy because of it. There won’t be this year either”, he told Público.
Adding a bit of sparkle to the day, Lourdes Cerol Bandeira’s update has tried to answer the question of how can there be ‘so many new cases’ all the time, but fewer and fewer hospitalisations (as of today only 3.4% of cases are being treated in hospital).
The answer, in her professional opinion, is that “the illness doesn’t have the gravity that it used to have” and that “many cases are ‘false positives’ picking up ‘fragments of the virus that lurk in the pharynx.
The message to her followers and the people of Lagos, as always, is ‘wear your masks, stay protected and (perhaps most important) do not be fearful’.