Archive for 2021

Infarmed meeting 22nd February 2021

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

The President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and the Prime Minister, António Costa, meet this Monday with experts. On the table in this meeting of Infarmed will be the evolution of the epidemiological situation of Covid-19 in Portugal.

André Peralta Santos, Directorate-General for Health,is speaking about the evolution of incidence and transmissibility.

Baltazar Nunes, from the National Health Institute Dr. Ricardo Jorge (INSA), will update the surveillance of genetic variants of the new coronavirus in Portugal.

The meeting will also include interventions by João Paulo Gomes, from INSA; João Gouveia, from the Coordination of Response in Intensive Care Medicine; Carla Nunes, from the National School of Public Health, Universidade Nova de Lisboa; Henrique de Barros, Institute of Public Health at the University of Porto; and Lieutenant Colonel Gouveia e Melo, coordinator of the “task force” for the Vaccination Plan against Covid-19 in Portugal.

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André Peralta Santos, from the Directorate-General for Health, outlines the epidemiological situation in the country, highlighting a consolidation of the “very significant descent” trend in contagions.

A total of 104 counties are no longer at an extremely high risk level, with 15 counties now in that situation. The regions of Lisbon and Tagus Valley, Alentejo and Centro are the most worrying.

According to the data reported last Saturday, there are 322 new cases per 100 thousand inhabitants, which corresponds to a “relief from the situation”.

The downward trend is also maintained in all age groups, with the group of people over the age of 80 being the one with the highest incidence.

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Baltazar Nunes: contagion rate is the lowest since the beginning of the epidemic

Baltazar Nunes, from the Ricardo Jorge National Health Institute now speaks.

The estimate for the contagion rate is now 0.67, “the lowest since the beginning of the epidemic”. The value is below 1 across the continent and autonomous regions (ie, on average each infected person infects less than one person). That decline began in mid-January and is stabilizing, experts say.

With the first confinement measures there was a reduction in contagion, but with a different intensity depending on the regions, explains the expert. Then, with the closure of schools, the effect was “more homogeneous”.

As for the incidence by age, at the end of January it was higher among young adults and up to 50 years old and also in the elderly over 80 years old. In the period from 1 to 14 February, there is a “sharp and very clear reduction” in all ages, but the sharpest decline was even between 15 and 45 years old – and, again, in the population over 80 years old . That is, in the groups where there was more contagion there was a greater decrease.

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Portugal is the country with the lowest contagion rate and the least mobility (but it is rising slightly)

The specialist at the Ricardo Jorge Institute now analyzes the data related to mortality, noting which factors contribute to an excess of deaths.

The model identifies that there were more 8905 deaths attributable to covid-19, with an excess of more than 2000 deaths due to extreme temperatures. About 64% of the excess of deaths will be due to covid, 19% extreme temperatures and for 7% no factor or explanation is found.

The analysis now focuses on comparing the incidence rate between Portugal and Europe – Portugal now has the lowest R (t) value in Europe. “If we continue, it is possible to continue to descend at a marked speed.”

As for population mobility, on February 2 Portugal was the country with the largest reduction (-66%) in relation to the pre-pandemic period; currently it continues to be so, although with some increase in mobility (-62%), as in other countries. Confinement reached its “peak” in early February, but has been reduced.

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At the end of March alone, we should have less than 200 beds occupied in intensive care

Baltazar Nunes now adds that the reduction in social contacts was more pronounced among the younger population.

Experts project that the rate of decrease is consistent and that at the end of March we will be below 60 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, which is consistent with the scenarios designed at the beginning of the confinement.

The occupancy of beds in intensive care is also falling, but it is high and only in the second half of March it will drop from 300. Only then, at the end of March, should it reach less than 200 (last year, the peak was 270 ). “Important” note: “None of this is acquired, none of this is certain. It will depend on the measures implemented and the behavior of the Portuguese population”.

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British variant on “level of stability” in Portugal

João Paulo Gomes, from the National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge, updates the surveillance of genetic variants of the new coronavirus in Portugal.

The United Kingdom variant, detected in 87 countries, will dominate the prevalence where to enter, but Portugal is already at a level of stability, said the expert. The descent of this variant resulted from a “strict confinement”.

Between December 1 and February 21, there were 150,000 cases of the British variant, according to the national projection presented.

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Exponential growth of British variant with lack of definition, predicts João Paulo Gomes

The British variant represents 48% of the total infections by the new coronavirus in Portugal, details João Paulo Gomes, from the National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge.

“When we suspect, this variant will not disappear”, warns the expert, predicting a new exponential growth of this variant. “It is more than natural”.

Only vaccination and group immunity can stop this advance.

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7 cases of the Brazilian variant and 4 of the South African

So far, four cases of the South African variant and seven cases of the Manaus, Brazil variant have been detected . In this variant, it is just a transmission chain, said João Paulo Gomes, from the National Health Institute Dr. Ricardo Jorge.

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The recipe for the “new normal” in intensive care, still “very fragile

Now João Gouveia speaks to talk about the answer in Intensive Care Medicine.

It starts by giving some data, the most important for the “new normal”: less than 242 hospitalized in intensive care beds with covid, 285 available beds and more than 600 for other patients. This is the point that specialists want to reach and João Gouveia now proposes to draw the “roadmap” to get there, criticizing the chronic shortage of financing in intensive care in Portugal.

In the last few months, he explains, we had two vacancies and a very high peak. The answer was possible with “a lot of effort” from the professionals, but also occupying spaces that should not be occupied with intensive medicine and even the construction of new spaces.

This capacity cannot, “unfortunately”, be maintained: it would take another 448 doctors and 1273 nurses, in terms of human resources alone, to maintain the response. In terms of number of beds, 914 is needed, a number “practically reached” at the end of the quarter.

To reach the desired number, it is necessary to control contagion, a transmission rate lower than 0.7, test more than high-risk contacts, have inquiries carried out in time and, above all, that vaccination runs “at an excellent rate”.

The “tidying up of the home” of intensive care can then happen if 1) it is possible to end forms of respiratory support and treatment outside of intensive care (they have been treated in structures that are not entirely adequate); that the occupancy rate in intensive care by covid is less than 80%; hospitals will need to have recovery plans, with a human resources plan to learn how and when to reopen their beds. If hospitalizations go up and the R (t) exceeds 1, this phase should be suspended.

This “return” of normal intensive care must be agreed upon, subject to a weekly assessment, maintaining critical covid beds per referral axis. “The situation of intensive care medicine in Portugal is still very fragile”, because it still depends on human resources that are not specifically in this area. Therefore, it will be necessary to complete the works in progress and “mainly” hire human resources, especially nurses, and launch the necessary competitions.

When will it be possible to get there, to the “new normal of intensive care medicine” (to the 245 patients in the ICU)? At the end of the third week of March. But only if all the assumptions are fulfilled.

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Portugal has already received 1 million vaccine doses. 4.5% of the population with at least one dose

Right now 7 out of 100 inhabitants already have at least one dose of the vaccine. In percentage, 4.5% of the population has already received at least one dose and 2.7% has the complete vaccination process, that is, with two inoculations and maximum protection.

The plan “is going well” in view of the availability of vaccines on the market and the reduction in deliveries during the 1st quarter, summarizes the person in charge of the task force for the vaccination plan.

In all and for the 1st quarter, the estimate is to receive 2.58 million doses, when in the initial forecasts the value pointed to more than 4 million. In the 2nd quarter, the value will already be much higher – 7.3 million doses – and even higher thereafter, to a maximum of 8.4 million. In the last three months, the forecast points to the arrival of another 5 million.

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Group immunity can be achieved in August

Henrique Gouveia e Melo, coordinator of the task force for the Vaccination Plan against covid-19, expects a reinforcement of vaccines in the 2nd and 3rd quarters that will allow to accelerate the vaccination process and reach 70% of the population with immunity in the middle or even early August.

In the 2nd quarter, if the updated schedule of scheduled deliveries is confirmed, Portugal should vaccinate an average of 100 thousand people per day.

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Confinement restored confidence in government measures

Regarding the adequacy of the measures applied by the Government, there was a drop since the summer and especially in January, “very sharp” – 68.9% on January 22 believed that the measures were “little or not adequate”; in the past two weeks the number has recovered.

The perception of the risk of becoming infected dropped considerably, which was always high. It went from 73.5% (among those who believe the level is low / risk free) on January 22 to 56% now. A danger: a possible relaxation in behavior because of this.

Higher levels of health responsiveness are always associated with a lower level of perceived risk.

In terms of global health status, women are worse, in the case of mental health it is more severe in young people. Men and young people have less appropriate behaviors.

Then, in December and January, there was a drop in confidence levels in the Government’s response capacity and measures, which meanwhile recovered ground (more frequent when there is less schooling).

In relation to vaccines, “very high” confidence values ​​and the intention to take it as soon as possible are maintained.

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Minister welcomes descent but is concerned about relaxation

The Minister of Health welcomed the downward trend – “we are below 300 per 100,000” – but left a “note of concern for some relaxation without legislative change for confinement.” “None of this has been achieved, everything depends each one of us and combined measures ”, he said. He added: “We must make the circumstances in which we live a cautious assessment. We cannot intend to move from one extreme to another in a time that is not compatible with the control of the pandemic. ”

Covid-19: Project “Neighbours at the window” awarded the Civil Solidarity award

Monday, February 15th, 2021

Lisbon, February 15, 2021 (Lusa) – The project “Vizinhos à Janela”, a neighborhood initiative to combat isolation and loneliness during confinement due to the covid-19 pandemic, received today the “Civil Solidarity” award from the Economic and European Social Fund (EESC).

In a statement, the Committee added that it attributed the CESE Prize for Civil Solidarity to “Neighbors at the window”, in the “cultural offerings” category, noting that the “project was a brilliant example of remarkable civic responsibility and solidarity during the crisis of the covid- 19 ”.

The EESC, an advisory body representing European civil society at the level of the European Union, selected “Vizinhos à Janela” as the best Portuguese candidate for the Prize, “due to the aggregating strength of its music, it helped to transform a simple neighborhood into a true community of mutual assistance ”.

“Vizinhos à Janela” was announced as one of the 23 laureates in a virtual award ceremony held today by the EESC. Each winner received a prize of 10,000 euros.

The project received the award in the category of “cultural offers, a category that grouped projects” that played a fundamental role in mitigating the effects of the pandemic, in various creative and original ways “.

Last year during the first confinement, a group of neighbors came together to alleviate the loneliness of home life.

Twice a day, at 2 pm and 8 pm, residents of Rua Belo Horizonte “Jardim dos Arcos”, in Oeiras, in the Lisbon district, played music from their balconies and windows for 10 minutes, until the end of July 2020. Four other nearby streets have also joined the initiative.

“These brief outbursts of culture and connection brought some relief and regularity to disturbed routines, and provided strength and joy to the people who lived in the neighborhood,” says the EESC.

Doctors, nurses, policemen and cantoniers visited the street and received a musical tribute in recognition of their work, after which the Oeiras City Council contacted the residents inviting them to take advantage of the spirit of solidarity to collect food for the most needy.

Each building on the street appointed someone to collect supplies from neighbors, who were then handed over to various associations working with vulnerable groups. Local businesses, grocery stores and restaurants also contributed with groceries.

“On average, 700 articles were donated per week, and several residents started volunteering activities, on a permanent basis, together with these associations. At this moment, food aid has already reached six tons ”, highlights the EESC.

“We give so little and we receive so much … This enormous appreciation gives us much more strength to continue in the struggle and help the most needy, and give a real meaning to the phrase:” Help to help “, said the project coordinator Íñigo Hurtado, a Catalan living in Portugal for over 30 years, quoted in the note.

In the delivery of the prizes, the EESC vice-president responsible for Communication, Cillian Lohan, said that “all the projects received are proof of the altruistic commitment of citizens and the local level, which proves that the contribution of civil society in this struggle is huge”

The prizes were awarded to winning entries from 21 countries in the European Union.

The winners were selected from a total of 250 applications submitted by civil society organizations, individuals and private companies. All projects were based on solidarity and presented creative and effective ways to face the often frightening challenges created by the crisis.

Most of the projects targeted vulnerable groups or the people most affected by the crisis, such as the elderly or young people, children, women, minorities, migrants, homeless people, medical staff, workers and employers.

The EESC launched the award in July 2020 under the theme “Civil society against COVID-19”, announcing that it would be an exceptional single edition award, replacing the usual CESE Award for Civil Society.

According to the Committee, the objective was to pay homage to European civil society, which has engaged actively and unselfishly in acts of solidarity since the early days of the pandemic.

DD // SB

The dark side of Valentine’s Day. More than 2,000 complaints of dating violence in 2020

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

Seven out of ten young people surveyed believe that control or persecution in the relationship is legitimate.

The PSP received more than 2,000 complaints last year about dating violence, most of which were reported by ex-boyfriends, which represented a 5% decrease compared to complaints received in 2019, that police force said on Sunday.

In 2020, 2,006 complaints were registered by the PSP, of which 1,116 related to dating violence between ex-boyfriends and 890 to ongoing dating relationships, “transversal to all age groups”, announced this Sunday, Valentine’s Day, the PSP in a statement, noting that the data are not yet definitive as they are “in consolidation”.

In view of the numbers, PSP says it finds that there was a decrease of about 5% of complaints, compared to the year 2019, years in which it registered 2,100 complaints.

“We believe that the proactive work of the PSP also contributes to this decrease, namely through awareness raising actions with the school community”, he says in the document, concluding that, despite the decrease in the number of actions in the last school year, due to the pandemic and online education, “PSP has managed to get the message across” on this issue.

Early intervention, explains the PSP, is one of the principles of action enshrined in the legislation of minors in Portugal, recognizing the negative effects on the formation of children’s personality when exposed to violence in a family environment.

“The replication of this behaviour in any affective bond and, specifically, in dating relationships, is an indication of the need for specialized intervention “, he says, recalling that violence is neither tolerable nor excusable, but “those who attack need to be helped “.

Violence in dating relationships can be physical, psychological or emotional, social, sexual and economic, and insulting, threatening, offending, assaulting, humiliating, persecuting or debauching intimacy are forms of this violence.

“About 85% of the reports of dating violence presented to the PSP in 2020 involve psychological violence”, he adds, concluding that physical violence is present in 70% of the complaints and that approximately 50% of these cases occur inside the homes, and only 27% on public roads.

During the academic year 2019/2020, within the scope of the Escola Segura Program, the PSP claims to have carried out 1,346 awareness-raising actions on the theme, involving 28,573 students nationwide.

“This proactive work with the school community contributed to the fact that, annually, 40% of the reports of violence in courtship reach the PSP through the Escola Segura Program”, he also says, appealing to the report of violence, whether or not in courtship.

A study by UMAR – Union of Alternative Women and Response to almost 5,000 young people, presented on Friday, concludes that almost seven out of ten young people surveyed find legitimate control or persecution in the dating relationship and almost 60% admitted have already been the victim of violent behaviour .

Data from the 2020 study conclude that 67% of young people consider dating violence to be legitimate, of whom 26% think control is legitimate, 23% persecution, 19% sexual violence, 15% psychological violence, 14% a violence through social networks and 5% physical violence.

Among these nearly 5,000 young people, whose average age is 15 years old, 25% find it acceptable to insult during an argument, another 35% consider it acceptable to enter social networks without authorization, 29% who can be pressured to kiss and 6% even understand that can push / slap without leaving marks.

With regard to gender differences, it is always on the part of boys that legitimation is greatest, with emphasis on the “pressure to have sex” behaviour, where legitimacy among boys (16%) is four times higher than girls (4%).

 

INFARMED meeting Lisbon 9th February 2021

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

In the lead up to the renewal of the State of Emergency government are once again gathering to hear from experts and political parties at Infarmed, in Lisbon, to hear the experts take stock of the situation and give advice over the next few days:

EPIDEMIOLOGICAL SITUATION IN THE COUNTRY
André Peralta Santos | Directorate-General for Health

EVOLUTION OF INCIDENCE AND TRANSMISSIBILITY
Baltazar Nunes | National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge

UPDATE OF THE SURVEILLANCE OF GENETIC VARIANTES OF THE NEW CORONAVIRUS IN PORTUGAL
João Paulo Gomes | National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge

EPIDEMIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION AND ACTION CRITERIA
Manuel do Carmo Gomes | Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon

EFFECT OF VACCINATION ON INTERNAL AND MORTALITY
Henrique de Barros | Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto (Videoconference)

SOCIAL PERCEPTIONS ABOUT COVID-19 AND MORTALITY IN A HOSPITAL CONTEXT
Carla Nunes | National School of Public Health, Universidade Nova de Lisboa

POINT OF VIEW OF THE VACCINATION PLAN AGAINST
COVID-19
Henrique Gouveia e Melo | Task Force Coordinator for the Vaccination Plan against COVID-19 in Portugal

Minister of Health opens the session, explaining that experts are in the room, but politicians are following online – for the first time. Therefore, the usual reactions of parties and MPs will have to be postponed.

DGS

André Peralta Santos, from the Directorate-General for Health, begins by saying that the country started a downward path, peaking on January 29 – with 1669 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants. The weekly change is minus 29%. The downward trend was accentuated.

DGS: containment works, also against new variant. Situation has improved, but is still alert

Most municipalities remain at high risk of transmission.

In early January, the epidemic was booming. At this time only in Madeira there is no decrease in transmission – but with a much lower incidence of departure.

In the North, the January period was very similar to November and December – the same pattern also for hospitalizations in terms of hospitalizations and ICU. Already in Lisbon and Tagus Valley, had “growing quite fast in a short period”, with acceleration to 30 January. But in the last week there has already been a general decrease (even at higher levels). As for hospitalizations and mortality, the phenomenon is the same.

At this time, all ages have a decreasing trend.

The age groups above 60 years are the ones that cause the greatest concern for hospitalizations – with very high incidences above 80 years, yet with no decrease between 60 and 80.

The total hospitalizations already have peak training indication, but still no clearly defined trend.

In terms of mortality, “what we see is a very significant increase during January – almost three times compared to December, but already with a clear formation of a peak in the first week of February”.

As for the new variant, this is the state of play: a progression of cases, with a greater focus on the Lisbon and Tagus Valley regions, with a focus on the Alentejo Litoral and Coimbra region. The North is less prevalent.

Here, then, are the conclusions: the incidence remains “extremely high”, although decreasing. “This level of confinement seems sufficient to stop the spread, including the new variant.”

Rt is 0.82 in Portugal

The estimated value for the average of the last five days analysed, between January 30 and February 3, is 0.82 for Rt (average number of people who each infected). “It is a low value, which clearly indicates a reduction in incidence,” says Baltazar Nunes, responsible for the Epidemiological Research Unit of the National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge (INSA).

The value is below 1 in all regions of the Mainland and in the Azores. Only in Madeira it is at 1.13, “which indicates a phase of growth”, says the expert.

Portugal is one of the countries with the greatest reduction in mobility in the EU

Contrary to what happened in the first weeks of January, Portugal is now one of the countries with the most marked reduction in mobility in the European Union, “in the order of 66%”, says Baltazar Nunes, an INSA epidemiologist.

It takes two months to contain less than 200 patients in intensive care

The models indicate that it is necessary to maintain the confinement measures equivalent to March and April, with schools closed, for two months, in order to achieve lower levels of incidence and hospitalizations in intensive care.

“We need to maintain these measures for a period of two months to bring the number of beds in intensive care below 200 and the incidence to 14 days below 60 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants”, said Baltazar Nunes, from INSA

British variant with decreasing trend

João Paulo Gomes, from the National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge, says that between December 1 and February 7, around 120 thousand circulated in the country with a pattern of mutations associated with the United Kingdom variant.

If in the last meeting of Infarmed the projections indicated that about 65% of the cases of covid-19 registered next Sunday would be caused by the British variant, the expectation is now more positive. “We totally deviated from the curve projected at the time. We stopped having an exponential growth, the curve started to have an S curve and this is great news”, points out the expert.

Variants from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil are more transmissible

Variants of the new coronavirus from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil have “a common mutation” that results in increased transmissibility. However, the Brazil and South Africa variants have an “additional mutation” in relation to the British one, which brings “increased concerns”, stresses João Paulo Gomes.

“It is also associated with a greater escape from our immune system,” he warns.

There would have been 120 cases of the English variant, but “exponential growth” was avoided

João Paulo Gomes, from the National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge, says that the English, Brazilian and South African variants have “a common mutation”, which makes them much more transmissible.

In Portugal, since the beginning of December, more than 200 thousand tests have been carried out, about 40 thousand positive. Of these, 9 thousand were of the British variant. The expert estimates that, between December 1 and February 7, there were “more than 120 thousand” cases of this variant in Portugal.

However, he said there was “great news” : although it was predicted that, from January to February, the number of cases of this strain would rise from 8% to 65%, these are only about 16% of the total cases . In other words, “we have completely deviated” from these projections, moving from the possibility of “exponential growth” to a “plateau” situation.

Still, João Paulo Gomes expressed some concern about the new California variant , which he says may be more resistant to antibodies and seems to represent, for now, 6.8% of cases in Portugal. “We will be attentive”, guaranteed.

Risk of infection, in January, rose in the 20-30 age groups and over 80.

Manuel Carmo Gomes, from the University of Lisbon, now takes the floor.

Confirming what was disclosed by Baltazar Nunes, he concluded that the risk of infection, in January, rose in the 20-30 age groups and over 80.

Between 7 and 15 January, the speed of the increase in cases stabilized, the result of the first measures in January. As of January 22 (general confinement), the decline is evident, says the expert.

“About 70% of the population should be vaccinated by the end of September”

Henrique de Barros, from the Public Health Institute of the University of Porto, said that if it is assumed that “” 70% of the Portuguese population will be vaccinated by the end of September “, we can expect to leave the current situation” at the end of Summer”.

In a scenario in which vaccination is 90% effective and takes place at the rate initially foreseen – an optimistic hypothesis, admitted Henrique de Barros -, “we saved 3500 lives until the end of September”.

Improvement of behaviours after relaxation at Christmas

In the last two weeks the change in the behavior of the Portuguese after a relaxation in the period of Christmas and New Year is noticeable, points out Carla Nunes, from the National School of Public Health of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

“Regarding behaviors, in the general sense there was a positive recovery after the parties”, says the expert.

If on December 11, about 35% of people admitted leaving home all or almost every day, on February 5, only 15% of respondents said leaving home.

Asked whether they kept two meters at a distance from other people when they left the house, 20% ticked ‘Sometimes / Never’ on 8 January, while only 13% chose this option on 5 February.

Regarding the question: “In the past two weeks, have you been in a group of ten or more people who do not live with you?”, 20% of respondents answered affirmatively on December 25, while only 5% admitted yes on February 5.

Increases the level of confidence of the Portuguese in vaccines

If on November 13, 20% of Portuguese said they wanted to get the vaccine against covid-19, currently 75% admit they want to “get the vaccine as soon as it is available” , says Carla Nunes.

Also confiançe in health services has increased in recent months , with half of the Portuguese to ensure trust in the responsiveness of the NHS to covid-19.

Late vaccines, first phase only ends in April. But in September 70% of the population will be vaccinated

Henrique Gouveia e Melo, coordinator of the Task Force for the Vaccination Plan, admits that “we are at a time of strangulation of vaccine availability”. Thus, there is a significant decrease in vaccines (compared to the contracted), expecting that we have 1.98 million doses applied in the first quarter – for the moment, the country has 60 thousand vaccines in reserve, for safety reasons to ensure that they are second doses are applied.

This is the state of play in relation to the priority plan: the elderly and most at risk population is 1.14 million, the state employees are 235 thousand people. But “with these two groups we will not be able to finish the first phase until March 31, we will extend it to April. It is not a problem of administration, nor logistical, it is access to vaccines”, said the military.

Now, the goal is “to finish the first phase in April. And with the vaccines available, we have 22,000 vaccines per day, which still does not require the solutions established within the NHS.”

In the second quarter it will be four times more. “And there will eventually be a need for faster vaccination solutions, despite the fact that the NHS still has the capacity to respond.” Only in the third quarter, with an even higher rate of vaccination, “it is certain that the extension to new processes of rapid vaccination posts will be one of the solutions. If the vaccines reach the expected rate, if we can do it in time – I think capacity for this – we should reach 70% of the population in late August, early September “, admitted the task force coordinator .

Ending with a commitment: “We must finish the entire population later this year, in December.

The Minister of Health concluded

The current level of confinement is having an effect – including the number of hospitalizations, at a later stage, intensive care and deaths. Effects also on the control of new variants: “circulation estimates were 60% at the moment, but we managed to reduce their prevalence”;

For the Minister of Health, “it is quite clear that the greater the intensity of the confinement, the faster the reduction of the risk of transmission”. The effects of the measures, he acknowledges, “were different after the first measures of the January 21 aggravation”;

“Although these measures are producing results, it is quite evident that the current confinement has to be prolonged for a longer time, for now, but probably for a period of 60 days from the beginning . Having been mentioned that this will be what will allow us to CI below 200 beds and incidence below 60 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants. The incidence level is still extremely high ”, admitted Marta Temido.

The minister noted a “high intention of the population to be vaccinated, an important indicator for the country’s recovery, but that must be read with the shortage of vaccines that we are facing”. At this moment, noted the minister, Portugal has contracts signed to receive 4 million in the first quarter, but “we are only sure of the delivery of 1.9 million vaccines”.

Marta Temido now advocates extending and multiplying massive testing. “Testing and screening are essential,” he says, including the use of “rapid antigen tests” here. In this sense, the minister says that she will “insist on the DGS” to redefine the “technical criterion for extending testing”, in the sense of “testing contacts, regardless of their degree of risk”. “The Ministry of Health has already asked DGS for this, to assess this possibility, which we consider to be a good opportunity. If someone has been in contact with a positive case, let them always benefit from a test. We don’t have a testing problem today, there is a strengthening of public and private testing capacity. ”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting finished 1230 hrs

 

Aid requests to APAV’s Safe Internet Line increased 575.49% in 2020

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

APAV requests for help to the Internet Safe Line, to support victims of cybercrime and reporting illegal content, increased 575.49% between 2019 and 2020, with a peak in calls in March. last year.

According to data released today, the Internet Safe Line received 587 phone calls from cybercrime victims between January and December 2020, while between January and December 2019 102 contacts were received, an increase of 575.49% compared to APAV reflects “this time of pandemic”.

“In our opinion, it is due to the fact that not only do people spend more time online, because often circumstances dictate it, either through the telescope or telework, as people who were not online before and were not so aware of issues related to cybersecurity, which made them the target of some type of computer security incident ”, explained the responsible for the Internet Safe Line, Ricardo Estrela.

Among the 1,164 contacts – including requests for help and complaints of illegal content – received by the Internet Line in the twelve months of 2020, there was a peak in calls in March, when the line received 154 calls, against the 83 received in January and 119 in February.

Among the crimes, or other forms of violence, most reported, the threat stands out, with 172 cases, which represents 29.3% of the 587 calls, with situations of defamation or insult (45), bullying (10), debauchery privacy (18), illegal recording and photos (31) or ‘sextortion’ (34), a term that joins the words ‘sex’ (sex) and ‘extortion’ (extortion) and which happens when someone threatens to release personal content and requires sexual favors or the payment of money for not doing so.

“In threats, we are talking mainly about threats via social networks and the most common threat is the dissemination of intimate images or videos, which ends up not falling into the category of ‘sextortion’ because there is no underlying monetary contribution”, explained Ricardo Estrela .

According to the official, these are situations that normally happen in the context of intimate relationships, whether dating relationships that have some duration in time, or sporadic relationships, through online platforms “in which people were enticed to share some type of image. and then they are blackmailed or threatened who, if they do not send or do anything, suffer reprisals ”.

Ricardo Estrela said that over the last year it was possible to detect some changes in the way of acting in relation to a certain type of crime, namely in the case of threats, ‘sextortion’, wanton privacy or illegal recordings or photographs.

“What we noticed during the year 2020 is that it has become a phenomenon with an increasing increase in the number of cases, mainly, but not only, of Portuguese women who started to be exposed in private groups, either on chat platforms ‘, even on file sharing platforms ”, he pointed out, adding that in 2019“ it didn’t happen ”.

It also revealed that there have also been “many threats via social network or via instant messaging platforms (sms, whatsapp), where there are also many threats of harm to physical integrity and even death threats”, a phenomenon “associated with the increase in complaints of hate speech ”.

With regard to contacts made to report illegal content available on the Internet, namely child pornography or that condone violence or racism, the line received 720 telephone contacts, among 544 specifically because of content with sexual abuse by minors and others 216 related to hate speech.

In this matter, it was possible to categorize 1,773 images and, in five cases, to report sexual abuse content of minors housed in Portugal.

Ricardo Estrela admitted that “cybercrime is a very vast world”, but left two pieces of advice, namely “be careful with all kinds of information” that is shared on the internet, stressing that the digital footprint is “very strong” and that it is difficult to you can delete something after it is shared, and ensure that all equipment is secure, right from the creation and safeguarding of passwords.

Pedro Simas says that Portugal may be one of the best in the world to control the third wave

Monday, February 8th, 2021

Virologist Pedro Simas said this Sunday that Portugal is experiencing an abrupt reduction in the number of new contagions, resulting from confinement, which could put the country among one of the best in the world to control the third wave of the pandemic.

“We were one of the best in the world in the first confinement, the worst at the origin of the third wave and we will be one of the countries in the world that soon manages to control the third wave because, in fact, there was a fantastic adhesion to the confinement and the result is in sight “, he said in statements to the Lusa agency.

The viruses, he said, are transmitted by droplets and if movements with confinement, wearing masks and social distance are inhibited, the transmission chains are abruptly interrupted.

“This was perfectly predictable and depended on good behaviour and adherence to total confinement and what I see is that there was fantastic adherence and the result is in sight because biology is factual. If there are no contacts and people adhere to the rules, the viruses cannot be transmitted. It is in our hands. That’s why the decrease curve is so steep “, stressed the virologist at the Molecular Institute of the University of Lisbon

Pedro Simas said that from January 28 to February 6 Portugal went from an average of 12,890 cases to 7,270 cases.

“It is fantastic. It is being performed so well that after two weeks there has been a significant decrease in the number of deaths. On January 31, we had an average of 288 deaths in the last seven days and now we have 253. There are also here, a trend and this means that we have good health services and that, despite the difficulties, the National Health Service is performing well. We only have reason to be proud”, he said.

The closure of schools was, for Pedro Simas, decisive for this inflection of the growth curve. “The closure of schools was decisive because it is a clear message for Portuguese society. When schools are closed it is because the matter is serious,” he said, adding that having schools open implied a lot of adult movement.

The virologist warns that it is now very important to learn from the past and realize that it is necessary to follow the rules so that Portugal does not run a greater risk of the appearance of a fourth wave, remembering that it was the relaxation of the measures before, during and after Christmas that led to the third wave of the virus.

“We have already understood the dynamics of the virus. How can we control it? At the level of society by adhering to the rules of physical distance, the use of the mask and inhibiting unnecessary contacts as much as possible”, he stressed. The combination of these factors, he argued, will make a difference in order to gain freedom, keeping the level of infections at acceptable levels.

Pedro Simas reinforces the need for caution in the lack of definition, arguing that it should only be considered when the country reaches between 700 and 1400 new cases per day. “It would be great and we would be at a great security level where, following the rules, we were able to control and avoid a fourth wave,” he said, noting that it is possible that within two to three weeks Portugal will achieve these ideal security values ​​for making decision about the deflation.

“(The lack of definition) is when the numbers allow because they are a direct effect of our behaviour and directly reflect whether we are in control or not,” he said. Pedro Simas also pointed out that an exponential decrease in the number of infections is happening in the world.

“From February until now it has been going up all over the world until the 23rd of December. Between 23 and 28 it went down a little, going up again until January 11th. From January 11th to February 6th it has always been going down. There has never been such a big decrease worldwide “, he said, pointing this out as a positive note, but stressing that there is concern about a possible fourth wave, which is why it is necessary and decisive to be careful in the post confinement.

“I want to give a positive signal, we will have summer”

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

 

Mathematician and Professor Henrique Oliveira talks about the role of confinement, the prospects for the coming weeks and the effect of vaccination.

Henrique Oliveira, a mathematician and professor at the Instituto Superior Técnico, considers that the confinement is taking effect, especially since the schools closed, stressing that the Rt (transmissibility index) is below 1 across the country.

“We are reaching the peak in Lisbon and Vale do Tejo and the numbers are very favorable,” said the professor, adding that in this respect he is more optimistic than the Minister of Health, Marta Temido.

However, Henrique Oliveira argues that caution is necessary because the pressure on healthcare will remain, even after the peak is exceeded.

REDUCTION IN THE NUMBER OF FATALITIES

According to projections, the number of fatalities will start to fall, after a very high peak of deaths by Covid-19 has been reached.

“Lethality went up immensely in the month of January and went up a lot in layers above 80 years old,” he said in an interview with SIC Notícias.

The professor believes that the number of deaths will start to fall very quickly and, from the end of February, it is estimated that Portugal will be at the same level as Christmas, “if all goes well”.

The calculations point to a much smaller number of fatalities between 15 and 22 March. It will be at that time that it will be considered whether or not to open the country.

“With the January and February mortality levels, it would be very imprudent to open in an uncontrolled way”, underlines Henrique Oliveira.

CONFINEMENT IS HALTING VARIANTS

Henrique Oliveira says that the confinement is being very effective, even with regard to the transmission of new variants of the virus. There is still no data on the Manaus variant, but there is already scientific evidence on the British and South African variants.

“All foreign variants, English, South African and even Manaus, are not being devastating in the face of this confinement. They are being dominated”, says the professor.

VACCINATION STILL WON’T HAVE AN IMPACT IN FEBRUARY

Vaccination in February will not yet have an effect on the numbers, says Henrique Oliveira. However, if it is possible to vaccinate 80% of people over 80 during February and March, the protection will be noticeable significantly, allowing the month of April to be an opening month.

“I want to show a sign of optimism, we will have summer. From June onwards, we will be in a very favourable situation, we will be in a kind of temporary group immunity”, says the professor, remembering that this is only possible if contacts are reduced and the use of a mask continues to be widespread.

In a positive perspective, which requires some prudence, tourism will be able to plan activities in the summer, says the mathematician.

We want society to open up and be able to recover from there without limits”, he concluded.

 

 

Costa praises the mobilization of the private and social health sectors to fight the epidemic

Friday, February 5th, 2021

“For the pandemic to be eradicated, it must be eradicated in the European Union and on a global scale, which is a huge effort”, underlined the prime minister.

The Prime Minister also underlined that to speed up the vaccination process, the industry has to increase the vaccine production capacity. António Costa stressed that the pharmaceutical companies have already committed to fulfill this objective.

For the head of government, it is essential to vaccinate the majority of the population in order to return to normality: “We will only return to normality in our lives when we are all vaccinated or, at least, 70% of the population, reaching group immunity”.

“It is essential that each one waits serenely for his or her turn to be vaccinated”, he recalled with the indication that the call for the vaccine will arrive via SMS or letter.

The Prime Minister also said today that one thing is the turmoil of political debate and another is reality, praising the joint work of the National Health Service and the private and social sectors in combating covid-19.

This position was transmitted by António Costa at the end of a visit to the new CUF Tejo Hospital, in Alcântara, during which he attended the vaccination process of health professionals in the private sector and was accompanied by the Minister of Health, Marta Temido.

“I want to leave a word of thanks here, because one thing is the turmoil of political debate and another thing is reality. Since March we have been in contact, we have worked together, and the National Health Service (SNS) and private hospitals and of the social sector, or of the Armed Forces, have been mobilized whenever necessary to respond to this pandemic situation “, maintained the leader of the executive.

Speaking after brief speeches by the chairman of the CUF group’s board of directors, Salvador de Mello, and the Minister of Health, António Costa stressed that the country is experiencing the most critical moment in the fight against the epidemic, being also “the moment when this collaboration between sectors proved to be more necessary and, equally, more effective was demonstrated “.

“We have 53 agreements across the country with institutions from the private and social sectors, 13 of which, specifically, for the treatment of covid-19 patients. At the time when each bed is absolutely essential, the existence of an additional 300 beds made available by the private sector on the whole it is very important “, stressed the executive leader.

The prime minister also pointed out that there will be more than 700 beds made available by the private sector, reinforcing “a set of conventions” for the care of non-covid-19 patients who need treatment.

Covid-19: REINFORCED CONFINEMENT REDUCES CONAGION by 40% IN ONE WEEK

Thursday, February 4th, 2021

School closures, which led to less mobility, and the more restrictive measures imposed by the Government helped a faster drop in the transfer rate, show estimates from the Covid19 Insights project

The closure of schools, and the consequent decrease in mobility, and the more restrictive measures imposed by the Government from mid-January helped a faster drop in the transmissibility rate of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, making the effect of the current confinement very close to the effect achieved with the confinement made in March and April last year. Within a week it was possible to reduce the transmissibility of the virus by 35% to 40%. It is still early to relax, but this greater compliance with the measures is beginning to reveal some impact on the covid-19 numbers. Although hospitalizations and deaths remain high.

“To evaluate a containment, what matters is to measure its effect. The effectiveness of a confinement is seen by the drop in the rate of transmissibility. This rate is the product of two elements: contact rate – mainly represented by mobility – and the likelihood of transmission – represented by the characteristics of the virus and the protective barriers we use ”, explains to PUBLIC Pedro Simões Coelho, coordinator of the Covid19 Insights project, an initiative by NOVA IMS and COTEC.

To measure the effect of the current confinement, the reference was the average speed of the drop in transmissibility of the virus in March and April last year. “We estimate that at the beginning of this confinement, this reduction in the transmissibility of the virus took place at a speed that would be 30% of the speed that was made in March and April. In other words, it was 30% of the effect achieved in the first confinement”, says the specialist, referring to a period that goes from the second week of January to the closing of schools. From that date on, “this effect began and has been progressively intensified and at that date we estimate that the effect of this confinement is about 90% of that of March / April “.

What has changed to achieve this result, even though since the beginning of January there has already been some reduction in the mobility that people have assumed, anticipating the confinement decreed by the Government? “Until January 17th, the presence in workplaces was still very strong. There was already some drop compared to the reference level – average mobility in January and February 2020, when there was still no pandemic – from -11% to -26%, but now the drop is more than 40% ”, begins by explaining .

It is this change that now allows for more favorable estimates than those obtained two weeks ago. Thus, the peak of prevalence is expected to happen these days, with about 182 thousand active cases. This figure should drop to 160 thousand on 7 February. Also for that day, the scenarios point to the existence of 5900 people with hospitalized covid, of which 825 are in intensive care units. The maximum number of hospitalizations will have been reached on day 1 and the maximum in intensive care is likely to happen by the end of the week. As for deaths, the maximum will have been reached on 30 January with about 300 deaths per day.

But the country is still far from breathing relief, even though the Rt (transmission risk) is slightly below 1. According to estimates, this should only drop below 0.8 in the second half of this month and it will be for that reason that the security barrier of 5000 new daily cases should be reached. “The value of 50 new cases per 100 thousand inhabitants has been used by many as a barrier below which it is possible to have an adequate traceability of the cases and to make an identification of the transmission chains. And, consequently, we have to do this as soon as possible”, states Pedro Simões Coelho.

The president of the Scientific Council of NOVA IMS also points out that the estimated number of hospitalizations, especially in intensive care, shows how the National Health Service (SNS) is close to its maximum capacity, since the same criteria of previous phases were used of the pandemic, estimates would point to higher numbers of patients hospitalized at around 200 in intensive care.

“This is one of the reasons why confinement needs to be continued in this severe way for some time. It is essential to maintain or intensify [the drop in transmissibility] for some time to avoid this situation of rupture and try to prevent this excess mortality from continuing ”, he reinforces, stating that if there is capacity to control transmission chains and lower numbers it will be possible to progressively suspect. But always evaluating this impact so that a new growth of contagions can be stopped.

 

 

Vaccination of 900,000 elderly and those with associated pathologies

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021
Prime Minister António Costa, the Minister of Health, Marta Temido, and the Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs and coordinator of the fight against Covid-19 in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region, Duarte Cordeiro, accompanied the start of the vaccination process at the Family Health Units, in Alvalade, Lisbon.
This was the first day of administration of the vaccine in health centers, to people over 80 or over 50 and associated pathologies, within the framework of the first phase of the vaccination plan.
The Prime Minister stated that the Family Health Units Alvalade and Parque, both located in the Health Center of Alvalade, are “an example of all health units that, in the country, progressively, starting today, will start with the new phase of the vaccination process’.
900 thousand people
This is «a much more demanding process, covering a universe of about 900 thousand people, those over 80 and over 50 and associated diseases, and which will require a great capacity to mobilize all these units of health”.
“We already have more than 400 thousand people who have had at least the first dose: health professionals considered priority, all users and home workers, other homes for the elderly and long-term care units,” he said.
António Costa added that “now we are going to make a big leap, which is to reach a much more diverse population and using less confined spaces than hospitals and homes”.
“We will have two months of very demanding work, which will be essential to prepare for the next phase, in which, having already vaccinated everyone over 80 and those over 50 with comorbidities, we start addressing the population in general”, he said.
The Prime Minister said that general vaccination “will be a much more complex exercise, which will be limited by the amount of vaccines available”.
However, he added, “there is a very big effort by the European Commission to get the industry to fulfil the contracts, to increase its production capacity, so that we can speed up the vaccination process”.
Ensuring pandemic eradication
Vaccination «is essential because it is the only way to eradicate the pandemic. We know that we have excellent health professionals – in hospitals treating those who have to be hospitalized, accompanying patients who may be at home -, that the whole community is making a great effort to prevent contagion through the use of masks, distance , etc., but the vaccine is the guarantee of eradicating the pandemic ”.
António Costa said that “a very significant sign of the confidence that the Portuguese have in the National Health Service and in all those who work in it, is the desire of the Portuguese to be vaccinated, as your experience shows».
However, “it is not worth having excessive anxiety, nor rushing to the local health units to ask for the vaccine. Each one will be contacted to receive the vaccine at the right moment”».
Trust professionals
“It is essential that we respect the priority criteria that the technical and health authorities define. It is useless to act as bench coaches, thinking that this disease should be a priority over that one”, he added.
“We trust what professionals and doctors tell us, such as when we go to a doctor’s appointment: when he tells us that we have to take that syrup, we have to take it; that we have to take that antibiotic, we take the antibiotic”, he said.
The Prime Minister underlined that “we must follow the rules and do nothing to contradict them. If we do this, knowing that the doses of vaccine that are made available to us are limited, we will reach everyone as quickly as possible and, as a priority, those who need it most ».
António Costa wished “all the best of luck in this process: to those who are going to be vaccinated and to the professionals, for the great effort they will have to do, because, in addition to the day-to-day work, they now have this vaccine to give”.
Vaccines control disease
“As the nurse-coordinator said, this is a worthwhile effort in a country where, fortunately, for decades, we have become accustomed to the fact that vaccination is a fundamental step in controlling the disease”.
«It has been like this for generations, and this has allowed us to improve the results achieved in health. And this is another vaccine », he said.
The Prime Minister thanked the staff of the two Family Health Units for having “helped set the example for the country that it is possible, it is worthwhile, and each, in turn, wait for the message with the day, time and place to be vaccinated ‘.
Vaccination will take time
The Minister of Health, Marta Temido, affirmed that the vaccination process, “as much as we want to accelerate, it will still take time and a time when it is essential that everyone, the vaccinated and the rest of the population, continue to maintain the measures of protection, from the physical distance to the use of masks, to the aeration of spaces and hand hygiene ».
The Government has “applied the vaccination plan in compliance with the technical guidelines defined by the National Technical Vaccination Commission, the Directorate-General for Health and the plan’s task force”.
Thus, “of the priority health professionals, whether from the NHS or from other institutions, many have already been vaccinated, residents and professionals of nursing homes and units in the long-term care network have all been vaccinated, except in units where there were outbreaks,” he said. .
Innovative contact system
Now, “we are moving towards a more complex phase” of vaccination for a large population group that is not concentrated in some places, he said, highlighting the “innovative process of introducing the message system so that people can be called for vaccination. ».
Marta Temido also said that “people who do not have a family health team or family doctor, can go to the private doctor and, being able to be vaccinated, receive a declaration that they are eligible” and that they must present in health centers .
The Minister underlined that the Government’s concern “is to ensure that the system reaches everyone properly”.