Mystery as first Portuguese showing symptoms of coronavirus ‘disappears’

Hospitals taking risk groups only as 80% of infected “can recover at home”

With authorities rallying now around the ability to organise day-to-day life much more effectively, the decision has been made to admit into hospital only ‘at risk’ patients – those with compromised immune systems, underlying health problems, etc. – when they first become infected, and/ or start showing signs of the new coronavirus.

Graça Freitas, the ‘face’ of the DGS health directorate, explained in today’s press briefing that if conditions of those staying in their own homes worsens then of course at that point they would be admitted to hospital.

But for now the plan is to keep beds clear of cases that look likely to recover ‘on their own’.

Stressed Graça Freitas: “This illness seems to follow a simple rule: 80-15-5. This means 80% of cases can recover through self-care at home overseen by a family doctor; 15% will need internment in a general ward and 5% will need intensive care”.

When Covid-19 first arrived in Portugal “we interned everyone”, Freitas explained. “But now that we see the numbers, those who have the capacity to stay at home, will do so. Many countries do not admit this 80% into hospital”, she added.

Secretary of State for Health António Lacerda standing in for the health minister said priority now was for the ‘at risk’ groups of infected: the elderly, cancer patients, diabetics, and people with chronic illnesses.

Graça Freitas revealed that authorities may well decide to ‘change their strategy’ and start testing everyone for Covid-19 infection.

As experts brief ministers locked in a meeting that will only announce further measures later this afternoon, Graça Freitas said mass testing would depend on ‘favourable scientific evidence’ and the capacity of the country to actually run such an exercise.

For the time being, the ‘conditions of the market’ have to be borne in mind – meaning the logistics (and necessary materials) are simply not available.

Officially, the country registered a new death in its statistics today, but Ms Freitas accepted that a 94-year-old woman from Pombal who was only tested for the virus post-mortem should rank as death number 4.

The woman had been admitted to hospital with pneumonia.

Her son has since tested positive for the virus.

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