Archive for September, 2020

Over half of Portuguese believe pandemic hindered access to healthcare survey reveals

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

More than half of the Portuguese (57%) believe that the pandemic has hampered their access to healthcare, with the elderly population (69%) and the chronically ill (70%) the most experiencing this difficulty, reveals a study released today.

The data from the study “Access to health care in times of pandemic”, carried out by GFK Metris and presented today at the Ordem dos Médicos, state that this situation is the result of “an effective experience”: 692 thousand Portuguese did not attend the medical consultations marked.

“Almost all of the missed consultations were canceled by the health units”, says the study promoted by the “Movimento Saúde em Dia – Don’t Mask Your Health”, an initiative of the Portuguese Association of Hospital Administrators (APAH) and the Ordem dos Médicos (OM).

The study aimed to listen to the opinions and capture the perceptions of the Portuguese about the covid-19 pandemic and its impact on access to health care, having been carried out based on face-to-face questionnaires, between August 28 and September 7, with a sample representative of the Portuguese population, consisting of more than 1,000 people over 18 years of age residing in Mainland Portugal.

According to the survey, about two million Portuguese had a medical act scheduled during the pandemic (March to August), the majority (89%) consultations, while 23% had exams, 5% had scheduled surgery and 3% hospitalization.

“Although the majority of the 664 thousand Portuguese who felt sick during the pandemic – 454 thousand, that is, 69% – resorted to health care, three out of 10 (210 thousand or 31%) did not do it”, refer the study authors in a statement.

About 40% of respondents say that they would certainly use health care during the pandemic in case of need, 35% say that they would only resort if the situation was serious and more than 22% said they “would probably resort”.

Half of the participants report that they feel safe and comfortable in accessing health care. Whoever feels insecure, points out the fear of contagion as the main reason to avoid going to the doctor.

The study also wanted to understand how the Portuguese accepted telemedicine, having concluded that 775 thousand had a medical consultation by this means, with 90% doing it.

“However, in 95% of these cases the consultations were made by telephone, not constituting an effective telemedicine consultation – less than 5% of these teleconsultations involved image transmission”, points out the study.

He also stresses that, “although the experience was considered very satisfactory, the truth is that two thirds would not like to have this solution again under any circumstances or only in very exceptional cases”.

For another third, teleconsultation could only be an option in some consultations. Only 2% of people would like to maintain teleconsultation on all or almost all occasions.

The Saúde em Dia Movement was launched in early September by OM and APAH, in partnership with Roche, with the aim of alerting the population to “the importance of being attentive to symptoms and signs that need medical observation, but without forgetting also the rules already known to fight the pandemic ”.

PORTUGUESE FOUGHT IN A VERY COURAGEOUSE AND DISCIPLINED WAY” EVALUATES PRESIDENT OF EUROPEAN COMMISISSON

Sunday, September 27th, 2020

The president of the European Commission guarantees that “the European Union is in solidarity with Portugal” in the face of the crisis caused by the covid-19 pandemic, as shown by the fact that the country is one of the important beneficiaries of the Recovery Fund.

In an interview with the Lusa agency on the eve of her first official visit to Portugal as president of the Community Executive, Ursula von der Leyen states that “Portuguese citizens have fought in a very courageous and disciplined manner against the virus and have even been more successful than others”, and can count on the support of the EU, which will also help to “boost” the recovery of the national economy.

“The European Union will ensure that the Portuguese people, European citizens and people around the world have access to a future vaccine. And the EU will also be on the side of the Portuguese in recovering from the economic crisis”, guarantees the President of the Commission.

Maintaining that NextGenerationEU, the recovery fund proposed by its Executive and agreed by European leaders at a long summit in July, gives Europe “the opportunity not only to repair the damage and recover from the current situation, but to shape a better way of life”, Von der Leyen points out that“ Portugal will be an important beneficiary ”.

According to the commitment reached in July, Portugal will receive 15.3 billion euros in grants (non-repayable), including 13.2 billion euros, by 2023, through the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism, the main instrument of the Recovery Fund.

ECDC places Portugal in Moderate Risk category

Friday, September 25th, 2020

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) yesterday placed Portugal in a group of states with a “worrying trend” in cases of covid-19, but with “moderate risk”; (middle group out of three groups).

In today’s updated and presented risk assessment, ECDC points out that positive cases of infection with the new coronavirus, which causes covid-19 disease, have increased steadily across the European Union since August, which demonstrates that “measures taken were not always sufficient to reduce or control exposure”, warning that“ it is therefore crucial that Member States implement all measures necessary at the first signs of new outbreaks ”.

According to the Center, non-pharmaceutical interventions such as physical distance, hygiene and the use of masks proved to be insufficient to reduce or control exposure to the coronavirus.

Even so, the agency’s director, Andrea Ammon, pointed out that, “until a safe and effective vaccine is available, these measures remain the main public health tool to control and manage outbreaks” of covid-19.

In this updated assessment, ECDC divided Member States into three groups: those with a “stable trend and reduced risk”, those with a “worrying trend, but a moderate risk” and those with “a worrying trend and a high risk”.

Portugal is placed in the subgroup with a worrying trend, but with a risk considered to be moderate, which includes countries where high and increasing [infection] rates are reported due to the high rates of tests performed, and transmission is primarily reported in young individuals a low proportion of serious cases and low death notification rates.

“This represents a moderate overall risk of covid-19 for the general population and for healthcare provision. However, it should be noted that if there is a high volume of transmission over several weeks, the protection of vulnerable individuals is a challenge, and since the impact of the disease on these groups is very high, the risk for this population remains to be very high”.

This subgroup includes Austria, Denmark, Estonia, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.

According to the ECDC assessment, the states that currently present the highest risk are Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Romania and Spain.

“Today’s new risk assessment shows us clearly that we cannot let our guard down. With some Member States registering a greater number of cases than during the peak of March, it is perfectly clear that this crisis is not behind us ”, commented the European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides, in a joint press conference with the director of ECDC.

 

Government extends the term of the moratorium on credit to families and companies ending on March 31, until another six months, until September 30, 2021.

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

The Council of Ministers today decided to extend the term of the moratorium on credit to families and companies ending on March 31, until another six months, until September 30, 2021.

“Exceptional measures to protect the credits of families, companies, private institutions of social solidarity, and other entities of the social economy, will come into force until September 30, 2021”, says the statement issued at the end of the Council of Ministers, which also decided to extend until October 14 the declaration of emergency situation throughout the country.

Bank moratoriums, which suspend payment of bank loan installments (principal and / or interest), had already been extended by the Government until March 31, 2021, which has now decided to extend it for another six months.

However, the extension of the moratoriums approved today provides different solutions for companies depending on the sector in which they operate and the impact of the pandemic on their activity.

Thus, companies inserted in sectors particularly affected by the pandemic, namely those of tourism, culture, social sector or car repair and trade, will benefit from the extension of the moratorium until September 30 in the exact manner defined until March 31, that is, they will continue to benefit from the suspension of payment of principal and interest.

As for the remaining companies that are currently covered by the moratoriums, the six-month extension (until September 30, 2021) approved today, maintains the suspension of the payment of capital, but not of interest, as stated by the Minister of State and Economy, Pedro Siza Vieira.

“All companies currently benefiting from the moratorium will benefit from this additional six-month extension until September 30, 2021,” said the minister, after recalling that the moratorium now in force (and ending on March 31, 2021) corresponds a suspension of the principal and interest payment obligations.

Pedro Siza Vieira clarified that “the extension that now occurs [until September 30, 2021] is for six months for capital installments, only”, so most companies will have to start paying interest on loans as of 01 April 2021.

However, and this was another of the decisions made today by the Council of Ministers, for companies in sectors particularly affected by the pandemic, that extension of the moratorium until September 30 applies to the suspension of payment of capital and interest.

These tourism companies, culture and other sectors most affected, will also have an additional period of 12 months to repay the outstanding capital.

In practice, this measure, as stated by Siza Vieira, means that if, at the time the moratorium entered into force, a company had a loan in which it still had two years to finish paying it, it will have, as of September 30 2021, another year to repay the loan.

The measure, he said, will make it possible to “reduce the effort” to repay loans, and accommodate the longer-term impact of the crisis.

In the case of families, the minister stated that “the same universe” as those that benefit from the moratorium on housing and education credits sees “also the obligation to pay interest and capital to remain suspended until September 30, 2021”.

According to data presented by Pedro Siza Vieira, at the moment there are about 35 billion euros covered by the moratoriums, and until March, the obligations for payment of capital and interest that are suspended represent around 10 billion euros. .

On the other hand, the extension of the moratoriums decided today represents around 7 billion euros more, which is the amount that companies and families will not have to pay until that date.

The amounts in question led the minister to point out the “very significant effort” that the banking sector is making and to recognize its contribution in mitigating the impacts of this crisis.

Pedro Siza Vieira also said that these measures were taken taking into account the uncertainty about the strength of the economy’s recovery and reiterated that the Government will assess the needs to maintain or create measures depending on the assessment being made.

Since April, thousands of customers have not been paying loans to banks, making use of the Government decree-law that allows for loan default, created as an aid to families and companies penalized by the economic crisis triggered by the covid-19 pandemic.

Government rejects to stopping the country again

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

The Government has ruled out the return to the past in which the country stopped, according to the Minister of Health, Marta Temido. The almost door-to-door knowledge of the current epidemiological situation can lead health authorities to choose local confinements, as is the case, for example, in some neighbourhoods in the Spanish capital.

In March, the country closed with fear of the covid-19, bent to the unknown. “We were in a phase where, in some way, we could support, even from a social and psychological point of view, more restrictive measures”, recalled the Minister of Health, Marta Temido, discarding going back, to that time with closed doors and empty streets.

“We already realized that confinement is less effective than in the past,” added the minister, in an interview with RTP’s “Telejornal” on Monday night. “Today all countries are trying to move away from that line, regardless of whether there may be surgical measures locally”, such as those adopted in Spain.

The region of Madrid has decided, since Monday, to restrict freedom of movement affecting more than 850 thousand people, 13% of the total inhabitants, in areas of the city where there was a great increase in the contagions of covid-19. The affected population may leave the neighbourhood to go to work, to the doctor or to take their children to school, and the number of people who can meet is reduced from 10 to 6.

On the day that the Health Plan for the autumn-winter of 2020-21 was presented, the Minister of Health highlighted the pertinence of the epidemiological risk map, which appears in the document prepared by the DGS. “This is very important. In some regions of the country, we have already been able to say what the risk is almost door-to-door. This allows for more incisive and more effective action by public health, social security, security forces,” he explained. .

One more reason for the minister’s optimism. “We face this phase with confidence. We have more means, more human and technical resources, more organization and more knowledge,” said Marta Temida .

“We currently have 700 more ventilators than we had in March,” said the minister, also reporting the increase in testing capacity, defended as one of the important vectors of the Health Plan for the fall-winter of 2020-21. “In terms of laboratory capacity, we were doing about 3,000 tests a day in March and now we are doing 23,000 tests a day,” he said.

The NHS has 21 thousand hospital beds, seven thousand in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley Region “Of the 500 beds that the Lisbon and Tagus Valley Region has kept – in quotation marks – in this phase to respond to the covid, 300 are currently occupied “, said the minister. “There are 300 of the 500 that are part of the seven thousand”, he stressed, referring that the advantage of the SNS “is to work in a network” and that if necessary, it can mobilize more beds, even from the private sector.

Still in this interview, Marta Temido acknowledged that the SNS 24 Health Line does not always answer the phone, and admitted that this is largely due to a problem with the telephone networks. “We are trying to resolve, to invest in technological modernization,” he said, stressing that “the strengthening of telephone lines and the service capacity” is being carried out.

Addressing the shortage of water in the Algarve

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

The Minister of the Environment warned today that “there is no point in multiplying dams when there is no water”, pointing to the reuse of wastewater as the most immediate solution to guarantee greater water availability in the Algarve, which is in severe drought.

“The problem cannot be solved by building dams”, said João Pedro Matos Fernandes during the presentation of the Regional Water Efficiency Plan for the Algarve, in Faro.

He added in terms of funding for the next Community Support Framework, that the use of treated wastewater “will be right at the forefront of projects that may be financed”.

On the contrary, the minister said, in the “taxonomy of community financing” there is no “desalination or any dam”, but solutions “for the resilience of water supply”.

In this sense, João Pedro Matos Fernandes defends the reuse of treated wastewater for the irrigation of golf courses, which already happens in specific cases, in public green spaces or for street washing.

The Minister for the Environment and Climate Action said he believed that “it is only a few years before the majority of golf courses in the Algarve will be watered exclusively from waste water”.

In addition to the presentation of the plan, the session, which took place at the University of Algarve, included the signing of protocols with the 16 municipalities in the Algarve, for priority interventions in the water efficiency plan and a protocol between Águas do Algarve and Associação dos Campos of Golf.

The plan lists 57 measures, the implementation of which corresponds to an investment of 228 million euros, the majority of which are destined to the agriculture sector, in the amount of 79 million euros, although the urban component is the one that requires greater investment (122 million euros).

During the presentation of the Regional Water Efficiency Plan, potential solutions were pointed out to reinforce the water supply in the region, namely, the abstraction of water in the Guadiana River, upstream of the Pomarão, the desalination of sea water and the construction of a dam in ribeira da Foupana, in the eastern Algarve.

 

Marcelo praises health professionals and National Health Service marking 41 years

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

The President of the Republic today praised health professionals and defended a strengthening of the SNS resources, in a message that marks the 41 years of this network of public establishments and services.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa “reminds everyone that it is necessary to go further, reinforce and provide the National Health Service (SNS) with the appropriate means to respond to the great challenge of the times to come” and evokes in this note the founder of the PS and former minister António Arnaut, who died two years ago and is considered the “father” of the NHS.

“The President of the Republic marks today, September 15, the 41 years of the NHS, saluting and thanking the health professionals who over the years, and in particular in this exceptional time of the pandemic of covid-19, with great dedication and , often, with enormous personal and family sacrifice, true heroes as they have repeated, they have dedicated the best of themselves to taking care of the Portuguese “, the note reads.

According to the head of state, this year, “more than ever”, we must “remember that the SNS is one of the main achievements of the 25th of April, it is a pillar of the democratic rule of law and a key piece for human and for social justice “.

“The President of the Republic is honored to have voted on the Constitution of the Republic, which paved the way for the creation of the SNS”, writes Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who was a constituent deputy for the PSD.

In the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic of 1976, which had only votes against the CDS, it was established that “the right to health protection is realized by the creation of a universal, general and free national health service” and that among the tasks of the State in this The subject was “to discipline and control the entrepreneurial and private forms of medicine, articulating them with the national health service”.

The creation of the SNS was accomplished three years later with Law No. 59/1979 approved by PS, PCP and UDP, with the votes against PSD and CDS, which provided that the creation of this “network of organs and services” in the within the Ministry of Social Affairs, through which “the State guarantees the right to health protection, under the terms of the Constitution”.

“Recalling António Arnaut, who awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Liberty on April 25, 2016, the President of the Republic reminds everyone that it is necessary to go further, reinforce and provide the SNS with the appropriate means to respond to the great challenge of the coming times. We all have to fight, with courage and determination, for a better NHS, an essential condition for better health at the service of the Portuguese “, adds Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

Last June, regarding the death of a doctor with covid-19 in Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa published a note to defend that the effort of health professionals “deserves the appropriate means and the appropriate careers within the NHS”.

The covid-19 pandemic, a disease caused by a new coronavirus detected in December last year in China, affected 196 countries and territories.

In Portugal, where the first cases were confirmed on March 2, more than 1,800 people have died in a total of close to 65,000 cases of infection accounted for, according to the Directorate-General for Health (DGS).

GNR starts operation to inspect dangerous goods transport

Monday, September 14th, 2020

The National Republican Guard (GNR) will carry out an inspection operation for the transportation of dangerous goods throughout the country as of today 14th September, they announced.

The operation, which will continue until Sunday, involves means of the territorial commands and the National Traffic Unit and the inspection will focus on violations in the scope of the transport of dangerous goods, among them the lack of a transport document, circulation without a certificate approval or without the driver having a training certificate.

Access to the transport activity, non-compliance with the rules regarding the installation and use of the tachograph, the circulation of vehicles without having undergone mandatory periodic inspection, driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics and the non-use of the seat belt and / or restraint systems are other infractions that GNR will inspect.

“In road freight transport, dangerous goods are of central importance in the economies of modern societies and deserve increased attention from economic agents and authorities with responsibilities in this area, due to the risk associated with loading and unloading actions, packaging and transport of this type of material ”, remembers the GNR, in a statement.

The National Republican Guard also says that these types of operations, “aimed at risk factors, groups and places, are intended not only to provide better road safety, but also to increase the efficiency and quality of the services provided by GNR to road users” .

Council of Ministers – Measures Presented by the Prime Minister

Thursday, September 10th, 2020

The Council of Ministers discussed on Thursday the measures to be implemented from next Tuesday, the 15th, when schools begin to reopen for classes and the country enters a contingency situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic. .

The measures were presented by the Prime Minister and are as follows:

  • Gatherings limited to 10 people
  • Commercial establishments cannot open before 10 am (with exceptions)
  • Closing hours of establishments between 8 pm and 11 pm, by municipal decision
  • In shopping centre catering areas, maximum limit of 4 people per group
  • Prohibition on selling alcoholic beverages at service stations and, from 8 pm, in all establishments (except meals)
  • Prohibition of alcohol consumption on public roads
  • Return to classes in person, between 14 and 17 September
    • Upgrading the functioning of schools to the new health reality, with attention to gatherings with schools, namely in the surrounding commercial establishments and in the hours of departure
    • Contingency plans in all schools
    • Distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE)
    • Reference framework for suspected cases, positive cases or outbreaks
  • In restaurants, cafes and pastry shops 300m from schools, maximum limit of 4 people per group
  • District rapid intervention brigades to contain and stabilize outbreaks in care homes
  • Sports venues remain without public

 

More details

With the new measures, gatherings are again limited to 10 people across the country.
From the 15th, the whole country will enter a contingency state.
“This means, that many of the rules that have already been in force in the Metropolitan Area of ​​Lisbon, will come into effect across the country”, explains António Costa.In this way, the Prime Minister announces that gatherings are now limited to ten people across the country and commercial establishments, with the exception of pastry shops, cafes, hairdressers and gyms, should only open after 10 am, “in order to ensure the differentiation of schedules and circulation ”.

The operating limitations of establishments are also extended to the country. The closing time of the establishments is between 20h and 23h, by municipal decision.

Regarding the areas of restoration of shopping centers, António Costa makes it clear that “there cannot be more than four people per group in order to avoid large concentrations in these eating spaces”.

Prohibition of alcoholic beverages from 20h
 

A ban on alcoholic beverages was also decreed at service stations and, starting at 8:00 pm, in all establishments, except drinks to accompany meals in catering establishments.

The consumption of alcoholic beverages on the public road is also prohibited, “because it is absolutely essential to be able to ensure that the situations of informal gathering of consumption and parties” that have been denounced do not multiply.

Cafes 300m from schools with maximum customer limit

“A major contagion factor does not develop at school, but on the way from home to school and from school to home. Therefore, I appeal to everyone to be aware that the risk of contagion outside school is not less than the risk of contagion at school “, underlined Costa.

In this way, the Prime Minister also announces the maximum limit of four people per group in restaurants, cafes and pastry shops 300 meters from the schools.

District rapid intervention brigades to contain and stabilise outbreaks in homes
Regarding the situation in homes and in order to respond to outbreaks in these establishments, the Government decreed that “district rapid intervention brigades will be created to contain and stabilize” these outbreaks.These brigades, explains António Costa, involve “doctors, nurses and diagnostic technicians who can act very quickly in the face of any outbreak that occurs in any home in order to allow the diagnosis as early as possible, to avoid that cases come to be known when there are already dozens of cases ”.

The Prime Minister says, therefore, that around 400 people will be involved in the 18 brigades.

Sports venues remain without public
 

“The decision we have at the moment is not to allow the public to exist in sports venues in order to avoid risks of contamination,” announced Costa.

The Prime Minister justifies this decision by stating that “we all know that our behaviour in the cinema is very different in a football stadium and, therefore, this imposes restrictions on the existence of audiences in these spaces”.

Concrete measures for the Metropolitan Areas of Lisbon and Porto

“We cannot ignore that the incidence of this pandemic is concentrated in particular in the two Metropolitan Areas of Lisbon and Porto, which is natural to happen”, says António Costa. “Higher population density necessarily increases the risk of transmission”, he explains.

Thus, the Prime Minister underlines that, in these areas, “it is necessary to make an increased effort to avoid the concentration of people, both in public transport and in the work areas”.

Thus, in the Metropolitan Areas there will be teams working in mirror, with “rotation schedules between telework and face-to-face work”.

For those who are in person, there will be a mandatory time difference, with different entry and exit times, as well as breaks and meals.

COUNCIL OF MINISTERS MEETING TODAY TO DETERMINE SITUATION OF CONTINGENCY MEASURE TOBE INTROFUCED 15TH SEPTEMBER

Thursday, September 10th, 2020

The Council of Ministers will meet today and in discussion there will be measures to be implemented from Tuesday, when the country enters into a contingency situation due to the covid-19 pandemic, as already announced for the government.

In late August, precisely at a press conference after a meeting of the Council of Ministers, the Minister of State and the Presidency, Mariana Vieira da Silva, justified this Government’s decision to impose new rules from September 15, in a preventive manner , with the “significant change in routines” that will happen.

“The Government considers that this significant change in routines, in the use of transport, the return to school and a more significant return to the labour market may require additional measures”, said Mariana Vieira da Silva.

The Prime Minister reaffirmed today however that a situation of confinement “is a non-scenario”, because the country would not support it, and asked everyone to be “extremely disciplined” in complying with the rules.

“The best way to not stop again, is to be extremely disciplined in complying with the rules. We have to keep this pandemic in check and that requires enormous discipline on the part of all of us”, stressed António Costa, on the eve of the Council of Ministers taking decisions on the contingency situation that will be in effect from Monday 15th September.

The Head of Government recalled that it is not because the “sun is shining and the weather is hot” that behaviours should be relaxed, namely people walking together, stop washing their hands or having “big dinners”, because if they do, the country risks losing everything it has achieved over the past few months.

“If there is something that we all have in mind, it is that the country does not support it, families do not support it, companies do not support it and individually, each one of us does not support going through a situation of confinement”, he said.

“This is not a scenario, we cannot stop again”, he reinforced.