Hospitals in Portugal’s capital Lisbon continued overflowing with patients on Friday, with nearly half of the COVID-19 infections in the worst-hit region thought to be caused by the coronavirus variant first detected in the UK.
The highly contagious variant is responsible for more than 32% of cases nationwide and almost 50% of all cases confirmed in Lisbon, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Twitter late Thursday.
Citing the same figures, Health Minister Marta Temido said the data may not paint a full picture as it is coming from just one laboratory.
Portugal has been under lockdown for two weeks and has one of the world’s highest active infection rates.
On Friday, another 13,200 cases were detected, more than half in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region.
That’s down from the record-breaking 16,432 cases reported Thursday. Still, for the country of 10 million, it suggests more pressure is to come on the already buckling healthcare system.
The director of Portugal’s largest hospital – Santa Maria in Lisbon – told media Friday the hospital has been “overflowing” for days.
“At the moment, we have around 60 patients waiting to be admitted […] we don’t know if the patients in the ambulances have minor issues, moderate issues or are in critical condition,” said Anabela Oliveira.
For the first time, three patients in critical condition from Lisbon were sent to the Portuguese island of Madeira on Friday, which is almost a two-hour flight away.
Another 278 people died of COVID-19 in Portugal, the Health Ministry reported Friday.
In total, 11 886 people have died from the infectious disease in Portugal – nearly half within the last month.