The public health system in Portugal is on the brink of collapse as hospitals in the worst-affected areas get swamped with new patients due to the rapidly increasing number of new COVID-19 cases in the country.
The public health system in Portugal is on the brink of collapse as hospitals in the worst-affected areas get swamped with new patients due to the growing number of coronavirus cases, the country’s health minister said on Sunday.
According to Portuguese Health Minister Marta Temido, the government warned that the entire health system of the country, including the National Health Service (SNS) and its other subbranches, are close to reaching the limit of their capacity as they face scarcity of intensive care beds that are needed in treating COVID-19 patients.
“Our health system is under a situation of extreme pressure,” Temido said in a press briefing, shortly after attending a meeting at Garcia de Orta Hospital in Almada on Sunday. “There is a limit and we are very close to it.”
Before the pandemic outbreak, the health system of the country already had the lowest number of critical care beds per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe.
According to the data released by the health ministry, the health system in Portugal can only accommodate a maximum of 672 COVID-19 patients in each intensive care unit.
However, the country reported a record 10,385 new COVID-19 cases and 152 deaths on Jan. 17, with the number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs reaching 647 on the same day, according to Portugal’s Directorate-General of Health.
Health authorities said most of the new cases came from Lisbon. To attend to all patients, some of the OCVID-19 infected individuals were already transferred to other hospitals, including the ones located in Porto city.
“We are already treating patients beyond our installed capacity,” said Daniel Ferro, the director of Santa Maria Hospital in Lisbon. “And we are not the only hospital where this is happening.”