“The pandemic is not over. The time to act is now.” The alert was left by the voice of Raquel Duarte at the meeting of experts, which took place on Friday, at Infarmed’s auditorium, in Lisbon, where the pandemic situation in Portugal was analyzed. The pulmonologist doctor closed the meeting with a series of recommendations to curb the trend of “worsening” of the SARS-CoV-2 infection.
In the end, Portugal is experiencing the “fifth pandemic phase”, although with lower severity and mortality than before, said Pedro Pinto Leite, from the General Directorate of Health (DGS), at the beginning of the meeting. The incidence is at “203 cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the last 14 days per 100,000 population, with an increasing trend”.
The situation is not as serious as that which existed a year ago, thanks to the high rate of vaccination (86.5 percent), experts said, but the increase in the number of infections shows the need to take action.
In this sense, it is necessary to act now, before Christmas, a period in which, according to Raquel Duarte, there is “an increased risk” of “an exponential growth in the number of cases”, which “means doubling or tripling the number of cases in a few weeks “.
For this reason, the pulmonologist recommended the mandatory use of masks in closed environments and public events, teleworking, when possible, and shifting hours in the work context, “in order to facilitate compliance with the measures”.
He also defended the digital certificate with recent testing in public spaces “when appropriate and in accordance with what is defined by the DGS”, testing, focusing on self-tests, risk self-assessment, promotion of activities abroad and the need to accelerate the vaccination process. “What we propose is that the strategy adapted to the current circumstances continues to be based on five fundamental axes: vaccination, indoor air renewal, distance, masks and testing”, he summed up.
Large events, when it is not possible to guarantee compliance with general measures, such as the use of masks, “should not be carried out”. AND in extended family relationships, “the self-assessment of risk and the use of self-tests will be very important”. In nursing homes, it proposed regular testing for employees and visitors. In public transport, he said, it is necessary to ensure ventilation or, alternatively, keep windows open, distance whenever possible and mandatory use of a mask. For the specialist in public health, the proposed set of measures “should be applied along with a rapid process of reinforcement with the third dose of vaccination”.
Responsible for coordinating vaccination, alerts to the need to strengthen resources
Previously, Colonel Carlos Penha-Gonçalves, responsible for the Coordination Nucleus of the Vaccination Plan, had warned of the need to increase resources on the ground due to the expansion of the group of eligible individuals for the reinforcement of the vaccine against covid-19. For example, those immunized with a single dose of Janssen’s vaccine and those who are recovered become part of it, and this is a situation that “doubles the planning effort” and leads to a reprogramming of the plan. “Since yesterday [quinta-feira], according to the DGS rule, we are now considering other population groups and we are talking, basically, of 1.8 million people”, said the military man.
It is, therefore, “I need to reinforce the executive structure” because “it is in this balance of increasing capacity on the ground that we will achieve the objectives”. There are currently 304 vaccination points in the country, with the capacity to administer 465,000 vaccines per week, he said, noting that 630 thousand people have already received the booster dose. There are now about 600,000 people to vaccinate by December 19, at an average of 20,000 daily inoculations.
Portugal will reach “240 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in less than two weeks if we maintain this growth rate”
The focus given by Raquel Duarte to the need to speed up vaccination is justified in the words of Baltazar Nunes, from the National Health Institute Dr. Ricardo Jorge (INSA). With a transmission rate, R
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Accelerate vaccination, masks, testing, distance and telecommuting