Portuguese hospitals under “huge pressure. Next few days will be tough”, says health minister

Hospitals throughout Portugal are under “huge pressure”, admits health minister Marta Temido, stressing the next few days will be tough.

Over 300 people have been admitted to hospitals during the first two days of the current polar-cold snap. The weather has simply added to the already heavy demands of the pandemic. 

Patients in some hospitals are being treated in corridors – in short the country is on a knife-edge with many expecting further restrictions will be brought in in a desperate bid to halt the rise of new infections.

Ms Temido’s speech this morning stressed the need for ‘everyone to play their part’.

“We are once again in a phase of immense pressure on the health service”, she told reporters. “We are trying to respond but we need everybody’s help…”

It is becoming clear also that there is a lack of available health workers for the relentless demand. It’s not a national problem but a much wider one, said the minister. “The situation is that the market, not just Portuguese but other labour markets in the area of health, are lacking resources, and people are tired. This has all been going on for months now: a lot of work, a lot of exhaustion. There are difficulties dealing with this level of pressure… We all have to help stop the transmission of this virus”, she reiterated.

Reports over social media have been describing ‘hospitals in rupture’ in the areas most under pressure for days. National media has now confirmed this. 

Jornal de Notícias describes hospitals in the Greater Lisbon area “without A&E capacity”. The Beatriz Ângelo hospital in Loures, for example, has run out of A&E beds, and has patients “waiting for spaces in casualty”. 

Images of beds stacked in corridors in Guarda hospital have been released over national television news channels. The patients concerned are ‘non-Covid’ patients, but nonetheless receiving less than optimal conditions.

Tomorrow, the Council of Ministers will be meeting again: new restrictions could be in place by the weekend.

Nothing is certain other than the fact that the virus is still actively transmitting in every area of the country and the number of hospital internments has exceeded those at any time previously during the pandemic. 

Updates on the situation over the last 24-hours will come later today.

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