Heat wave deaths

The heat wave that hit Portugal at the end of July this year may have caused at least 80 deaths in the Algarve, according to a report by the Ministry of Health. The Heat Wave Contingency Plan monitored the death rate among patients suffering from heat related illnesses between May 15 and September 30. The data does not, however, specify the age or gender of the victims and is being studied for further information.

The high temperatures were registered between July 24 and July 27, a time period in which health authorities set in motion the ‘orange alert’ – the second most serious after red – in various areas of Portugal. The temperature alerts, based on information provided by various health organisations, operates at four levels (blue, yellow, orange and red), with necessary measures taken according to each level.

The Plan, which will now come into effect every year, hopes to provide information for the general population and support to more vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, children and those who live alone. It also predicts that hospitals will have to develop a specific plan to cope with the heat wave alerts, and aims for health centres to identify vulnerable people and community resources beforehand.