Photo: Mário Cruz/Lusa

Portugal’s virus update: less active cases, less hospital admissions, more warnings to avoid family and friends

On a day when the gradual decrease of active cases is at last filtering through to numbers in hospitals, the general medical council has issued another loaded warning: “there is no Christmas or New Year for the virus”.

“Put off non-essential trips, always use a mask, wash your hands frequently and avoid large groups of people, even if they are family members or friends”.

The number of cases, in the general medical council’s opinion, is still “very high”, posing a “significant risk to the safety of everyone and the integrity of the SNS health service”.

While mainstream media continues to emphasise the total death count attributed to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic (5,122), the truth is the number of active cases hasn’t been this low in weeks (70,426). Recoveries too are continuing apace – 6,585 in the last 24-hours. That’s 3,680 more people recovered than the 2,905 who have tested positive (and remember, many test positive with either no symptoms at all, or only very light symptoms).

In other words, as the country approaches the December 18 deadline the government has set for ‘assessing the situation before Christmas’, the evolution of the pandemic is looking ‘much more positive’ than it was even a week ago.

Deaths however are still high. The last 24 hours have seen 81 deaths in which Covid-19 appears to have been present. That is not to say the victims were ‘killed by the virus’, but that their death certificates registered that they had tested positive for Covid-19, even post-mortem.

The majority of deaths (44) were in the north (where the number of new cases was also ‘the highest’: 1,584). Lisbon/ Vale do Tejo followed: 22 deaths, 758 new cases, then the central region: 13 deaths, 418 new cases; Alentejo: 1 death, 40 cases and finally the Algarve: no deaths but 75 new cases.

Madeira and the Azores registered very few new cases (15 each) but one death (in the Azores).

Data these days rarely mentions age groups of the dead which suggests they were elderly victims with ‘other pathologies’.

For the first time in recent weeks the number of people being treated in ICUs is below 500. The number of patients in general wards has also reduced in the last 24-hours by 104, meaning there are now 3,263 in the country in hospital due to Covid-19.

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Meantime, RTP reports that the general medical council is in fact pushing the government to set limits of how many family members can meet over the Christmas period. For the time being howver, no limits have been set.