Portugal – ‘flu epidemic “within a week”
The Director General of Health, Graça Freitas, said today that the ‘flu in Portugal could become an epidemic “within a week,” adding that the current number of incidences is normal.
A meeting at the Directorate-General for Health was said to be “routine,” the situation was reviewed and predictions made regarding the spread of cold and influenza viruses.
Freitas explained that in Portugal and in Europe at this time of year, “low intensity” viruses circulate and that we are not yet at an official epidemic level but this could happen within a few days or a week.
Graça Freitas said that the health service’s winter plan had been activated and that the monitoring of the demand for related health care was ongoing, “at this moment everything is within normal limits.”
The director general warned people to protect themselves from the cold, stressing that this is the period of the year that has the highest risk for cold, ‘flu and other viruses, advising people not to go to hospital as their first option.
“The advice we give is that people do not go directly to the A&E. The first port of call is SNS24, phone 808242424,” said Freitas, noting that this helpline is manned by nurses who are trained to undertake screening and that people can be treated at home or at health centres.
Freitas also advised people not to take antibiotics that may be kicking around at the back of the medicine cupboard as they are not efficient in diseases that are viral; the best thing is to protect the body from cold and to keep hydrated.