Portugal's COVID-19 cases hit record, health service pushed to limit

By Catarina Demony and Sergio Goncalves LISBON (Reuters) - Daily coronavirus cases in Portugal rose 40% on Wednesday from the day before to a record 14,647, with the national health system (SNS) on the verge of collapse and the government pondering tougher lockdown measures to tackle the surge. 'The situation is serious and the government will not fail to do everything to protect the Portuguese,' Health Minister Marta Temido told reporters.

Reuters January 21, 2021 02:10:22 IST
Portugal's COVID-19 cases hit record, health service pushed to limit

COVID-19 cases hit record, health service pushed to limit" src="https://images.firstpost.com/wp-content/uploads/reuters/01-2021/21/2021-01-20T150728Z_1_LYNXMPEH0J11L_RTROPTP_2_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-PORTUGAL-VACCINATION.jpg" alt="Portugals COVID19 cases hit record health service pushed to limit" width="300" height="225" />

By Catarina Demony and Sergio Goncalves

LISBON (Reuters) - Daily coronavirus cases in Portugal rose 40% on Wednesday from the day before to a record 14,647, with the national health system (SNS) on the verge of collapse and the government pondering tougher lockdown measures to tackle the surge.

"The situation is serious and the government will not fail to do everything to protect the Portuguese," Health Minister Marta Temido told reporters. "We have the SNS at its extreme limit."

The European Union country of 10 million people, where authorities implemented a 15-day lockdown last week to fight the spread of the virus, also hit a record of 219 new deaths on Wednesday from 218 the day before, health authority DGS said.

Around 45% of new cases, which brought the total of infections to 581,605, were in the Lisbon region, where hospitals are running out of beds for coronavirus patients.

Currently 681 coronavirus patients are in intensive care units (ICUs), above the 672 maximum allocation of ICU beds out of a total of just over 1,000 available in the SNS.

Portugal has already nearly doubled the number of ICU beds since the start of the pandemic, when it had just 528 critical care beds and Europe's lowest ratio per 100,000 inhabitants.

Temido said the government had struck at least 57 agreements with private health bodies to use 800 additional ICU beds for coronavirus and non- Coronavirus patients.

"We want to use all existing capacity now because tomorrow may be too late," she said.

João Gouveia, head of a Portuguese association of intensive care workers, said the situation was "not as catastrophic as it was in Italy and Spain but we are close to it".

"Right now we still have a health system that can expand," he said, citing makeshift hospitals as examples. "But, in the case of ICUs, it is very limited due to a lack in human resources."

Under the new lockdown imposed on Friday, all non-essential services shut and people were urged to stay home. But the government decided to keep schools open despite heavy criticism.

Government ministers are expected to meet health experts on Wednesday evening to evaluate the situation and a potential closure of schools, according to news agency Lusa.

(Reporting by Catarina Demony and Sergio Goncalves, Additional reporting by Patricia Vicente Rua, Editing by Angus MacSwan and Mark Heinrich)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro at ₹499 for the first year. Use code PRO499. Limited period offer. *T&C apply

also read

Robinhood now a go-to for young investors and short sellers
Business

Robinhood now a go-to for young investors and short sellers

By John McCrank NEW YORK (Reuters) - Robinhood, the online brokerage used by many retail traders to pile in to heavily shorted stocks like GameStop Corp, has made an ambitious push into loaning out its clients' shares to short sellers as it expands its business. The broker had $1.9 billion in shares loaned out as of Dec. 31, nearly three times the $674 million a year earlier, and it was permitted to lend out $4.6 billion worth of securities under margin agreements, around five times bigger than the prior year, according to an annual regulatory filing late on Monday

Wall Street mixed as Apple and Tesla retreat
Business

Wall Street mixed as Apple and Tesla retreat

By Noel Randewich (Reuters) - Wall Street was mixed on Tuesday, with Apple and Tesla losing ground, while materials and energy companies climbed as investors looked toward the U.S. Congress approving another stimulus package.

Biden's SEC nominee vows review of GameStop trading issues, climate disclosures
Business

Biden's SEC nominee vows review of GameStop trading issues, climate disclosures

By Pete Schroeder and Chris Prentice WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden's pick to head a key market regulator promised on Tuesday a thorough review of issues raised by the GameStop Corp stock frenzy and suggested companies may have to disclose their potential risks from climate change