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Algarve reporting no new Covid-19 patients, but staying vigilant of “suspected cases”

covid suspicionsThere have been no new reports of Covid-19 diagnoses in the Algarve following the first two, a mother and daughter from Portimao, at the weekend. There are however a small number of “suspected cases” of people who have been admitted to Faro Hospital after showing some symptoms. These individuals are awaiting their test results from the Regional Public Health Laboratory. Moreover, the designated hospital unit in the Algarve’s capital has been functioning smoothly as they play their part in the Covid-19 response network.

“We already have suspicious cases hospitalized, and the analysis process is ongoing. I can’t give you a number, because in a little while it may already be change””, Paulo Morgado, president of the Algarve Regional Health Administration (ARS), revealed told regional newspaper Sul Informação

“But these are not confirmed cases of contamination by the new coronavirus. They are only suspicions, they have symptoms compatible with Covid-19 and have been in contact with someone who is ill or come from one of the so-called red zones, where there are many cases,” he added. Covid-19 is difficult to pin down and identify, as it shares symptoms with a plethora of common seasonal illnesses such as the cold or flu. Furthermore, roughly 80% of people diagnosed with the virus only experience mild symptoms, meaning that testing is crucial to minimise the spread to the elderly and immunocompromised.

“Since yesterday, cases that are validated as suspicious by the doctor’s helpline, which is the established procedure here in the Algarve region, are admitted to the Faro Hospital, and undergo analysis in our Regional Public Health Laboratory”, reinforced the ARS Algarve head honcho.

“There is already a regional contingency plan, although it has not yet been published”. On the other hand, “both the Algarve hospitals and the ACeS – Health Centre Group have plans already activated”. In other words, “all public health units in the Algarve have active contingency plans” he explains

“We have spaces for supervised isolation in all Health Centres. We have specific clinical pathways for suspicious cases. We also have a set of isolation facilities installed in the Basic Emergency Services and in the Hospitals of Faro and Portimão, so that people can wait while their cases are validated“, said Mr. Morgado.

“They are new, with bathrooms and all the necessary conditions for people to wait until the suspicion is confirmed or denied. At the bottom are waiting rooms for people who have been in contact with patients and are waiting in isolation conditions, so as not to be in the same waiting room as other users, ” he added.

“There are no new cases for now,” though he reassures.

But what about Faro Hospital, with the known difficulties it faces, is it ready?

“Of course we are ready! We adapt our response as we have cases. At this moment, the Infectious Disease Service is activated, but we will be able to adapt other services according to the needs”, he said.

As for beds, it will not be just the four isolation rooms at the Hospital de Faro that will be at the service of combating Covid-19, if necessary. “Patients will not necessarily be all in isolation. It depends on the clinical situation. We may have patients in isolation, but also in other rooms”.

Mr. Morgado guarantees that “isolation wards” will be created if necessary, but at this time it is not necessary.

“People can rest easy. If the Faro Hospital is no longer sufficient, Portimão and other structures will be activated. The region will have the capacity to respond appropriately to the evolution of the number of cases. People can be confident that health professionals and structures are able to respond”, he added.

“At this point, we all have to make an effort to contain and isolate confirmed cases, to break transmission chains, so that the disease in Portugal does not take on the proportions it has taken in other countries,” said Paulo Morgado. “We will do everything to adapt or hire new professionals, even if they are retired”.

Lastly, the ARS president took the opportunity to convey “an important message”. At this moment, because there are two cases in Portimão, some social alarm has been created in the municipality and “there is a large number of requests for testing from people who want to be examined, for the sake of anxiety, just because they think they have been in contact or was close to someone who is ill”.

“However, it is only justified to carry out testing – and this is valid not only for this, but for all situations – to confirm or diagnose a disease. In other words, it makes no sense to do them to those who do not have symptoms of the disease “, he concluded.