Two schools closed in Faro; “worst Saturday for new cases since early March”

Saturday’s bulletin is being billed as ‘the worst in terms of new cases since early March’ – which it may be – but numbers in hospitals are massively down on early March.

The week being cited (March 7-13) started with over 1,400 people in hospitals and over 350 in intensive care units. It ended with 980 in hospitals, and over 250 in intensive care.

Today sees only 466 people in hospitals and 119 in intensive care.

In other words, even though case numbers are not falling in the way authorities would like, one has to take into account the level of testing (over 70,000 tests last Thursday), and the numbers that are requiring (or rather not requiring) specialist care.

The focus seems to be on keeping people in a state of fearful respect in order to ensure measures in place are adhered to.

Today is also the first Saturday in weeks in which populations are ‘free’ to travel outside their own boroughs of residence.

Cafés, restaurants, local commerce etc all shut promptly at 1pm, with supermarkets and everything else able function following at 5pm.

The active case count is also well down on figures for a month ago (when over 45,000 active infections were registered). Now, the country is on just 25,810 – a fall of a further 90 cases since yesterday.

Therefore it’s always useful to look behind the headlines, and see what is happening with a bit more clarity.

In Faro however two schools (connected to each other, in the Montenegro area) have been closed due to outbreaks that highlighted 10 positive children and then led to the discovery that their families were also all testing positive.

The good news here is that no-one is actually ill. 

Say reports: “The majority of people contacted present just light symptoms without gravity”. 

The constant focus on ‘case numbers’ can blur what is often the reality that most of these people have to be told they have Covid-19; they are often not even feeling slightly under the weather.

That said, today’s bulletin registers +601 new cases bringing the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 826,928. Of that total, 16,910 have died (an increase of six fatalities in the last 24-hours). For months now the percentage of fatalities to the number of positive cases remains slightly over 2%. It is currently on 2.04% which is actually a little lower than it was last week.

But as healthcare workers who deal with the effects of this virus everyday stress, Covid-19 can cause very unpleasant longer-term consequences, even when people have recovered.

Today’s results are a bit ‘all over the place’: the number of cases in the Azores seems to have spiked alarmingly since yesterday’s bulletin (75 cases today against only 36 yesterday), while case numbers in Lisbon have plummeted (only 153 new cases today when there were 234 yesterday).

These numbers have to be collated on a seven-day average to make any sense, so all one can really deduce today is that more people have recovered than have tested positive; less people are in hospital than have been for weeks, and deaths too are remaining low, thanks largely to the fact that over 86% of the over-80s have now been vaccinated.