Flu epidemic “likely to be here within a week”

Director general of health Graça Freitas has warned that Portugal could have a new winter flu epidemic on its hands “within a week”, though there is essentially nothing to worry about. The surge is “normal” though late due to December’s mild temperatures. The best people can do to deal with symptoms that may arise is stay home, warm and hydrated and call the health system’s 24-hour service on 808242424.

The bottom line is that people should stay away from hospitals as much as possible, and certainly not consider self-medicating with antibiotics.

The 24-hour helpline employs nurses “trained to screen calls” so that people can remain in their homes, or go for treatment to local health centres, stressed Graça Freitas.