The prime minister, António Costa, today opened his biweekly debate in parliament with a statement on the “the prevention and containment of the Covid-19 epidemic” in a week in which four new cases of infection in Portugal were confirmed. Three were admitted to hospitals in Porto and one at Hospital Curry Cabral.
On Tuesday, the prime minister assured the nation that the National Health Service (SNS) has the “capacity to respond” by reorganising its services for an eventual “major expansion” should the need arise.
While visiting the Centro Hospitalar Universitário de São João (CHUSJ), in Porto, he said that “in the whole country, we have 2,000 beds reserved for people who have the coronavirus. Of these 2,000, three hundred are sited in intensive care units. The National Health Service itself, in its hospital sphere, can expand through the reorganisation of its patient services.
Responding to the crisis, António Costa has recommended “calm and serenity” to the Portuguese people as a whole and said that he trusted the country’s health system, whilst renewing the call for everyone to help prevent the spread of the contagion.
“The main recommendation I can make is that each person who has had contact with someone who is infected or who comes to know that he is infected is particularly attentive to the symptoms he has and, in case of symptoms, calls the Saúde24 line.”
Infected people may experience signs and symptoms of acute respiratory infection such as fever, cough and difficulty breathing. In more severe cases, it can lead to severe pneumonia with acute respiratory failure, kidney and other organ failure and eventual death.
Given a moderate to high level of risk to public health, the Portuguese authorities recommend contacting the SNS24 – 808 24 24 24 – if you have symptoms and have been in contact with patients and visited an affected region.
A dispatch published on Monday told public services and companies that they must prepare contingency plans for the Covid-19 outbreak within five working days. Among the measures that “should be considered” in the contingency plan are “reducing or suspending the service period, as the case may be the suspension of public events or initiatives, carried out either in closed places or in places open to the public and the suspension of face-to-face training activities, giving preference to long distance training.”