Hospitals return to breaking point

Porto’s São João ponders “reducing scheduled programme by 20%”

Hospitals in Lisbon and Porto are back to struggling with A&E demands. On the face of it, they are not down to rising numbers of Covid infections.

In the capital, central Santa Maria saw 800 people flood in off the street on Monday, 500 of whom were complaining of problems and conditions unrelated to Covid-19.

National media reporting however ran headlines suggesting the contrary: “Covid-19: casualty at Santa Maria reaches highest number since start of pandemic”, says SIC today – only later explaining that “2/3rds of people seeking medical attention displayed other pathologies”.

But in Porto, the situation is slightly different: 200 members of hospital staff ARE infected with SARS-CoV-2 – and A&E pressure hasn’t helped.

As a result, the hospital is being forced to consider declaring ‘level 3’ of its contingency plan which will mean reducing programmed activity by at least 20% (affecting operations, particularly; consultations also).

Clinical director Nelson Pereira has told Lusa: “The situation in the last 10 days has worsened significantly. The emergency service has been particularly hard hit. We are breaking successive records”.

On Monday, São João’s A&E admitted 946 patients, and in this case, rate of positivity for SARS-CoV-2 was 50% (albeit it may not have been the primary reason for admission).

Widening focus slightly, the general opinion of medical experts religiously cited in the press is that certain measures against SARS-CoV-2 may need to be revisited in order to reduce pressures on the health system.

Up till now, the government has resisted. The ‘lone voice of calm’ through pandemic reports – virologist Pedro Simas – has also said there is no need: infections riding high are a sign that more people are becoming immune, he said – and ‘perfectly normal’.

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