Portugal health system struggling as daily Covid deaths hit 293

Lisbon, Jan 27 (efe-epa).- Portugal is reaching its maximum hospital capacity as health authorities on Wednesday recorded a new record number of 293 deaths in a single day and dozens had to be transferred from hospitals as oxygen systems failed to match demand.

The current wave of Covid-19 in the Atlantic nation, which weathered the first surge in the spring of 2020 relatively well compared to the likes of its neighbor Spain, is unrelenting.

There were 15,073 new infections Wednesday, just shy of the previous record of 15,073.

Portugal has a population of just over 10 million.

Its hospitals are on high alert. Some 53 coronavirus patients had to be transferred from the Fernando Fonseca hospital on the outskirts of Lisbon to other medical centers as oxygen pressure dropped due to overuse.

“It’s a bit like water,” Luis Pisco, the head of the Lisbon regional health board, told TSF broadcaster. “If lots of people are using it at the same time, the pressure drops.”

The incident has fueled concerns that the health system in Portugal was on the brink of collapse. The hospital has since said that oxygen pressure had returned to stable levels.

The Fernando Fonseca hospital has the most Covid-19 patients in the country, and has registered a 400% uptick in intake since the beginning of the year. It has already warned that it would be unable to admit more patients until the end of the week.

The other health centers that took in the 53 patients warned that they were also close to capacity.

Recently published images of ambulances waiting in line to admit patients, sometimes for hours at a time, have shocked Portugal.

“I’ve been waiting for two hours, but other days it has been worse,” Vicente, a health worker with an ambulance waiting outside the Santa Maria hospital, Portugal’s largest, tells Efe.

He is first in a line of seven vehicles. On Tuesday there were 15 in line and on Saturday there were 20, Vicente says. EFE-EPA


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