Article in the Guardian this afternoon, after Portugal reported a new maximum high of daily deaths, 218, the first time the number has been over 200.
“Portugal is living “one of the saddest moments”, the country’s prime minister has said, as doctors warned of a healthcare system nearing collapse and the daily death toll from Covid reached a new record high.
The country of 10 million people recorded 218 new Covid fatalities, up from 167 yesterday and pushing the total death toll since the start of the pandemic to 9,246, health authority DGS said.
“We are certainly living one of the saddest moments, of greatest pain and suffering,” prime minister Antonio Costa told parliament. “It is a very tough marathon.”
Portugal, which last week announced a new lockdown to curb the surge in infections and help relieve pressure on struggling hospitals, also reported 10,455 new Covid cases, bringing the cumulative total to 566,958, Reuters reports.
“If [the number of infections] continues at this rate it will be very difficult to get to the end of the week without [the health system] collapsing,” said Joao Gouveia, head of the association representing Portuguese intensive care workers.
Of 672 intensive care unit (ICU) beds allocated to Covid patients in public hospitals, 670 are now occupied, while the country only has in total just over 1,000 such beds for all patients, regardless of illness, health authorities said.
“In hospitals the situation is absolutely dramatic,” said Ricardo Mexia, president of the National Association of Public Health Doctors. “Public health units don’t have the capacity to cope with the volume of new infections we are seeing every day.”
In the city of Portalegre, a hospital launched an inquiry on Tuesday into the death of an elderly man after he waited three hours inside an ambulance because the COVID-19 unit was full.”