Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Slight relief in Portugal as hospital pressure drops

Number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 declined for 1st time in weeks, deaths remain high

Alyssa McMurtry   | 02.02.2021
Slight relief in Portugal as hospital pressure drops File Photo

OVIEDO, Spain

Nineteen days after Portugal went into lockdown, pressure on the nation's hospitals declined on Tuesday for the first time in weeks.

The situation remains critical, particularly in the area of the capital Lisbon, though the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients nationwide dropped by more than 100.

Major hospitals have established triage centers as they continue to receive more patients than they can accept.

In these centers, patients arriving in ambulances are marked red, orange, yellow, green or blue depending on the gravity of their condition.

On Monday, 64% of the patients rushed to the Garcia de Orta Hospital were deemed to be in serious condition and were rapidly admitted, while 36% were sent home or to health clinics, Antonio Taboas, of Portugal's emergency services agency (INEM) told news agency Lusa on Tuesday.

The hospital, which is located in Almada across the river from Lisbon, is operating at 323% capacity, he said.

The drop in active patients is attributed to fewer new patients, as well as recoveries and deaths.

The Health Ministry reported another 260 daily COVID-19 fatalities. Portugal's pandemic death toll has now surpasses 13,000 -- with more than 6,000 of those fatalities occurring in 2021.

New infections are declining, with another 7,627 infections reported Tuesday. The number is still high for the country of 10 million but down from 10,800 one week ago.

Though the effects of Portugal's lockdown on new infections is now apparent, the country is still grappling with what economist Susana Peralta calls a "humanitarian disaster."

On Tuesday, the European Commission offered help to the country.

"Our Emergency Response Coordination Centre is closing following the critical situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic in Portugal and stands ready to help should Portugal request European Union assistance," tweeted European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic.

Germany, Austria and Spain have also offered their assistance to Portugal, though as of Tuesday, no reports suggested that their aid had arrived.

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