Coronavirus hits Portgual
Will Portugal become another Italy?
As I am in Portugal I thought it might be a good idea to report on just what is going on here, especially as things unfold.
Before the first two cases of Coronavirus were confirmed on the 2nd March, the people in Portugal, like those of other recently affected countries, seemed to think they were immune to this virus. I mean China is so far away and we never thought it would affect us. Now, as the cases increase day by day, we are seeing that it can.
While the numbers are still relatively low and people are not taking it too seriously, we are under a greater risk of the disease spreading — many people may even have coronavirus already and not know it, they can be asymptomatic and still infect others. Younger people are the more likely ‘spreaders’. They are not willing to give up their ‘freedom’. So even if they feel a little under the weather, they will carry on as normal, hanging out with friends, going to clubs, the cinema etc., and why shouldn’t they, right?
We look out the window and the sun is shining, it’s a beautiful day. It is hard to imagine that this is a real threat.
We just want to get on with our lives.
Once the numbers increase, maybe people will become more careful. Maybe they will see that this is not just a flu. Maybe they will change their habits and try and help to stop the spread…
This did not happen in Italy though. People carried on as normal — and the situation is far from normal.
Italy is a big worry. In a mater of two weeks or so, they have gone from 19 cases to 7,375 cases and 366 deaths (extremely high death rate), 659 are critically ill. Currently 16 million people have been quarantined in Italy.
The information changes by the day, even by the hour. In just 24 hours the new cases rose by 1,492
While tests have been focusing on those that visited affected areas, the virus has secretly crept in the back door. it seems pretty obvious that when the Coronavirus erupted in China, it was only hours away from everywhere and was transported at 740 km per hour, all over the globe. Then, for some unexplained reason, Italy became the new ‘host’.
What can Portugal do?
In Portugal, now would be the best time to restrict activities, even if only a little. Cancellation of football games, no parties or big celebration dinners, or organised event — no socialising in general.
But just how many people are willing to do this? Would you?
Not many of the ones I have spoken to are willing to do this, they just want to continue with their lives as normal. They cannot see the potential danger of ‘just carrying on as normal’.
The closure of schools would be a very proactive move at this point, some might think it premature, and I do understand the difficulties that parents would face. I am sure they could manage it if they had to. In Italy they got grandparents to look after the children, but that might not be a good solution as they are at greater risk of becoming ill. Maybe mothers or fathers could take early holidays and stay at home too?
Currently there are 30 cases in Portugal
The count in Portugal now stands at 30, but this figure can change quickly — it is bound to go up. The health minister has closed some schools; but that is only because a teacher, that had recently got back from Italy, was told on an official health line, that she could go back to work straight away. She did, then she tested positive and now all the kids from her class (and the school) are quarantined.
In the Algarve, a student came back from Italy and went to School, so now that one is closed too. Of course the problem now is, all of these children went home and spent time with their parents and with their grandparents. Portugal has a very large elderly population, 20%. These are more likely to be affected.
Visits to nursing homes, hospitals and prisons have been restricted. That is a very proactive decision. You don’t want this virus in your institutions. There was also talk of letting some prisoners go home, the ones with only six or so months to go. Not such a good idea as they may already be infected.
My friends say I am just being paranoid when I talk about this. I am getting prepared. Both emotionally and any other way I can (I got a few supplies in — never went too crazy on the toilet roll though — maybe I should get more in ;) )
Now we all know, that where there are 30 confirmed cases, there are more non confirmed cases — but most people don’t consider that. If you think that each of those five could potentially infect another five...and those in turn can infect another five, and so on and so on…it gets crazy. We are talking exponential numbers…
Yet many of the people I know still say the same things:
“A Doctor told me yesterday that 61 people have died in Ireland in 6 weeks from regular flu. That’s pretty shocking eh?!”.
Erm, no, in just 2 weeks 366 people have died in Italy. It doesn’t seem to register though. My favourite has to be:
“65000 people die of normal flu every year. ..3300 people have died of Coronavirus. ..boost your immune system with a good diet or herbal supplements like echinacea. ..wash your hands. ..be sensible. ..carry on. ..don’t fall for the hysteria. ..just take precautions”
Yet no real advice is offered. I see more hysteria in denial.
Our local Health Centre has set up a special room, around the back, where suspected cases can be triaged. At the front of the building we have sanitiser and masks in an open box, to be used if you are entering the building and you have flu.
One of my main concerns though, is the public bathrooms here. Due to the poor drainage, toilet paper is placed in a waste bin in the bathroom. This is not good…seeing that this virus is also transmitted through faeces and urine.
If we have ever had to pull together for the greater good of the planet, now is the time. We have to put our selfish desires aside, we have to stop going to football matches, the cinema, the theater or anywhere where there is like to be a large gathering of people. We have to stop shaking hands and greeting each other with a kiss or a hug, we need to consider social distancing.
If we don’t slow down the spread, the Health Care facilities will be overwhelmed. This is one of the biggest dangers…We have to try and slow it down so that we don’t get too many cases at one time.
China made huge sacrifices to stop the spread, they gave us a head start, which we paid no attention to, If we are not careful we might blow it, and undo all that work. We need to modify our behaviour.
If we value our freedom tomorrow, we may have to give it up for today.