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Portugal reports having already done 302,000 tests, on a greater scale than Italy and Germany

28testing portugalThe lethality rate of COVID-19 in Portugal is 3.3%, a figure that rises to 13.3% for those over 70 years old. Portugal has so far performed 302 thousand tests for the new coronavirus also.

“Portugal has surpassed the barrier of 300 thousand tests carried out,” announced the Secretary of State for Health, António Lacerda Sales, this Thursday at a press conference on the epidemiological evolution of COVID-19 in Portugal.

“Since March 1, about 302 thousand COVID-19 diagnostic tests have been carried out. We are talking about testing 27925 people per million inhabitants, and as of today, this is proportionally higher than countries like Norway, Switzerland, Italy and Germany “, he stressed.  “Of the total tests, about 49% were carried out in public laboratories”, said the official.

This Thursday Portugal registered a total 820 fatalities from the virus. “The overall lethality rate is 3.3% and the lethality rate over 70 years of age is 13.3%.” António Lacerda Sales revealed that “since March 9, around 2300 patients have been transferred from hospitals of the National Health Service (SNS) to the units of the national integrated continuous care network” and “230 social responses have been found”, which allowed “to open up crucial hospital beds at this time of the highest system pressure”.

“We remain committed to ensuring that the NHS continues to respond positively to the different phases of the epidemic and that everyone’s efforts continue to be as decisive today as they were yesterday,” he concluded.

Asked about the arrival in Lisbon of ventilators bought from China with buttons in Mandarin, António Lacerda Sales acknowledged “that some ventilators will come with indicators and buttons in Chinese but in those same ventilators there are indicators that are universal and that allow easy access” to the equipment . “If there are cases in which this does not happen, there will be a way to train professionals,” he added.  

Graça Freitas, Director-General of Health, explained the current pandemic situation a bit further. She explained that “R0” is the infection rate that each person represents, as in the number of others an infected person could infect whilst battling the virus.

“The higher the R, the greater the ability of the [epidemiological] curve to rise. An R very close to 1 is the plateau situation and when it is below 1 it is because the curve is going down.” This translates to every one infected person infecting only one other individual.
“There is no magic number” to start easing the measures and restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the virus. “Norway has adopted an R of 0.7. We have about [R] 1, some regions slightly above and some regions slightly below,” she said.

“We are at a point of balance”. This “is just an indicator of how the epidemic is going on”, but whether or not to decompress the measures and restrictions depends on the “epidemiological curve, the capacity of the health system and the capacity that countries have in monitoring both things”, she stressed. “We know that probably when we decompress the measures the curve will tend to rise,” warned Graça Freitas.

The Secretary of State for Health was again asked about consultations and surgeries postponed due to the pandemic, pointing out “a 6.6% decrease in face-to-face consultations” in primary health care in the first quarter of 2020, compared to the same quarter of 2019, but, he pointed out, “in non-face-to-face consultations there is an increase of 26.9%”.

“In hospitals, there are 5.7% less consultations and 5.3% less surgeries”, he said, reiterating: “we are making a recovery plan”, but without setting any date.

Regarding the manufacture of masks for the public, Graça Freitas stressed that there are “quality criteria”.

“A commission was set up with several institutions – it is Infarmed that coordinates this ‘task-force’ – to, with the Portuguese industry and the institution that regulates the quality of textiles in Portugal, to produce public use masks of good quality and filtration capacity “, said Graça Freitas.”The requirements were outlined to producers”.