coronavirus

Health advice as China admits: “You can test positive for coronavirus at least twice”

DGS health chiefs have today emitted advice while balking at imposing entry-restrictions on anyone returning to Portugal, or indeed visiting, from an area affected by Covid-19.

But just as this advice is being circulated, China has admitted that people can test positive for this virulent strain of coronavirus at least twice.

Indeed, 14% of patients in the Chinese province of Guangdong have tested positive after being released from hospital with a clean bill of health.

The same phenomenon has been reported in Japan where a 40-year-old woman who recovered from Covid-19 tested positive for the virus three weeks later.

Explains TVI24, this means there is still much more to learn about Covid-19.

Meantime, health authorities in China and Japan are now further stretched by the need to monitor patients after they have left hospital, to see if the virus returns.

As to Portugal’s advice to travellers and businesses, it boils down to the former being “attentive” to the appearance of fever, a cough or difficulty in breathing.

Anyone returning from an area affected by Covid-19 should take their temperature twice daily, and advise those who live or work with them to be aware of the situation so that they too can be particularly attentive to their own health and hygiene – which involves the frequent washing of hands (rubbing them vigorously for at least 20 seconds) and avoiding touching the mouth, nose or eye area with one’s hands.

Again, stopping short of recommending 14-days of self-isolation, the DGS advice suggests simply to avoid physical contact with people (for 14 days) and avoid being in closed spaces with lots of people, also for 14 days.

Any health concerns should be called through to the 24-hour hotline Linha Saúde 24 (800 24 24 24), with emphasis on people not travelling to hospitals or health centres if they think they might be infected.

Businesses are advised to implement contingency plans – so that any affected workers can be put in isolation temporarily (as authorities are called) – and to avoid holding ‘meetings’ of lots of workers in one room.

Says DGS, businesses must be prepared to have some (even all) their workers off sick.

Ways of coping could extend to ‘teleworking’ (staff working remotely from their homes) and holding meetings of any kind via video link. In other words, businesses are advised to “reinforce their technological infrastructures”.

In a scenario where a member of staff may be suspected of having contracted Covid-19, businesses are advised to have ‘surgical masks’ in strategic places so that they can be quickly used. The same goes for other hand hygiene products.

Businesses are also encouraged to ensure increased ‘cleaning’ of public areas like bannister rails, door knobs, elevator buttons etc.

Director general of health Graça Freitas has reiterated that Portugal is prepared and ready to face Covid-19, though there have been dissenting voices from doctors within the SNS health service.

João Proença of the national federation of doctors told SIC television yesterday that hospitals are not prepared, and when the first case appears, “there will be pandemonium”.

Ricardo Mexia, president of the national association of doctors in the public health system, has been less inflammatory, but agrees essentially with prime minister António Costa. “It is just a question of time before Portugal registers its first case”.

DGS health advice has also carried a video released by the World Health Organisation (click here).

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com