Health authorities in Portugal “prepare for 40% increase in hospital admissions next week”

SNS health authorities are described as “preparing for an increase of 40% in hospital admissions next week”.

The news – coming in Público early this morning – preceded the latest ‘Covid’ figures, recording another 48 deaths in mainland Portugal and 5,784 new infections.

Hospital admissions are already way beyond the scale of the ‘first wave’ of the virus in the spring. The last 24-hours have seen another 102 admissions, and 12 new patients taken into ICUs – taking the current ‘national total’ of people in hospital to 2,522, with 378 in ICUs.

Público explains that the ‘preparation for the 40% increase’ comes from a “new tool conceived in Portugal (by APAH, the Portuguese Association of Hospital Administrators) which has been adopted by the World Health Organisation”.

On the basis of this tool, APAH will start publishing weekly pandemic estimates. The first was yesterday’s, using data as of November 5.

Says Público, with this data as a reference, the increase in hospital admissions by Thursday (November 13) could actually reach 45%  –  meaning as many as 557 in ICUs. This would imply the need for 557 ‘ventilated beds’, which is approaching the 892 available nationally (of which 378 are already filled).

In other words, it’s a “very worrying” situation.

But APAH’s Adaptt Surge Planning Tool – developed with technologies company Glintt – is designed to work out not only what’s coming but what will be needed to deal with it.

Thus for next Thursday, Portugal’s hospitals will need 1,012 doctors, 7,141 nurses, 2,792 auxiliary technicians – and these will now be ‘mobilised’, says Público.

The good news? APAH’s forecast IS a worst case scenario. There is a ‘positive case scenario’, too, suggesting 2,610 patients in hospitals, of which 372 would be in ICUs. But the country is already perilously clear the first total, and it surpassed the second on Saturday.

As APAH’s president Alexandre Lourenço explains: “In a context of uncertainty, the logic of planning is to prepare for a more complex scenario”.