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Largest hospital in Portugal has line of ambulances with patients with covid

22. Jan.2021 – Health professional signals to ambulance with patient with covid-19 on arrival at Hospital Santa Maria, in Lisbon Image: Pedro Nunes / Reuters

The largest hospital in Portugal is going through a period of collapse with the increase in cases of coronavirus in the country. Yesterday, a line of ambulances formed in front of the Santa Maria Hospital, in Lisbon, which in addition to patients in the capital also receives people from other cities in the country.

“It’s a line of ambulances,” said Daniel Ferro, chairman of the Board of Directors of Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Norte, in a television interview. The hospital’s emergency director, Anabela Oliveira, admitted that doctors were practicing “medicine close to catastrophe medicine”.

In an interview with the newspaper “O Público”, the doctor Nídia Zózimo, who works at Santa Maria, said that in “42 years she never saw an equal situation”. “There are outbreaks in various services. And the problem is that since Thursday night we are not getting places to transfer infected patients from our services to covidiaries,” she described referring to places created to treat only covid patients.

Portugal is running out of hospital beds in public and private networks, according to the head of the country’s association of private hospitals, and the daily death toll from Covid-19 reached a record high yesterday for the fifth consecutive day.

The country of 10 million people, which fared better than others in the first wave of the pandemic, now has the highest recurring average of new seven-day cases in the world.

“We are experiencing a typical war situation. We do not have enough beds – in the national health service, in public and private networks – to deal with a pandemic progression of 13,000 to 14,000 new cases per day,” said Dr. Oscar Gaspar .

Also yesterday, as a result of the increase in cases, schools were closed for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Portugal has been on lockdown since January 15th, so non-essential businesses are closed and most people are confined to their homes.

Private hospitals have only offered 1,000 beds – about 10% of their capacity – to patients in the national health service with or without covid since the government asked for help in November. The other beds are almost full of private patients, said Gaspar, criticizing the government for calling for help too late.

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