Coronavirus Reaches Portugal, One Case Confirmed

Portugal now has one confirmed case and at least 85 suspected cases of COVID-19.

See the most recent developments here.

March 2: No cause for panic, people, but Portugal has registered its first confirmed case of the deadly coronavirus and another case that’s undergoing counter-analysis.

Illustration by Bodgan Kamuta

Portugal’s Confirmed Case

The confirmed case is a 60-year-old doctor currently in Porto’s Centro Hospitalar Universitário who recently came back from a holiday in Italy and experienced his first symptoms February 29, Health Minister Marta Temid and Director-General of Health Graça Freita told a press conference, according to Diário de Notícias.

Unconfirmed Cases

The yet-to-be-confirmed case is a 33-year-old man, currently in Porto’s Hospital de São João, who recently came back from Valencia in Spain and experienced the first symptoms February 26. Both men are in a stable condition and health authorities are identifying anyone with whom they’ve had contact to asses their degree of exposure, Temid said.

Moreover, authorities will extend monitoring measures to flights from Italy that have already been in place over the three weekly flights to Portugal from China.

Health authorities, as well as Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, said there’s no cause for alarm, while Prime Minister António Costa said the country’s healthcare system is prepared to deal with the situation, according to Diário de Noticias.

The New York Times reports another possible case in Portugal: a Chinese tourist who was taken off a train after complaining of symptoms. Officials say they’re tracking the other passengers on the train and will monitor them, according to the Times.

As of Sunday, Portugal’s Direção-Geral da Saúde has reported 85 suspected cases of the virus in the country.

The Case of Luis Sepúlveda and the Portuguese Literary Festival

Additionally, Chilean writer Gijón Luis Sepúlveda is the first reported case in Spain’s Asturias region — and he exhibited symptoms two days after attending the literary festival Correntes d’Escritas in Póvoa de Varzin in Portugal with his wife. Twenty people who had close contact with Sepúlveda have been placed in quarantine, according to Diário de Notícias.

Spread of the Virus Around the World

The coronavirus, first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019, has now been reported in 66 countries, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. In addition to Portugal, countries reporting their first cases span continents and oceans: Indonesia, Iceland, Armenia, and Andorra.

Of the 89,068 cases reported globally, 2,199 are in the EU/EEA and UK. A total of 3,046 have died from the virus, of which 38 were in the EU/EEA and UK. The Centre raised the threat of “risk of widespread sustained transmission” in the EU/EEA and the UK from “moderate” to “moderate to high.”

What You Can Do

Other than not panicking, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself and others. The World Health Organization suggests:

– regular, thorough washing of hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub

– maintaining at least a 1 meter distance from anyone coughing or sneezing

– avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth

– covering your mouth and nose with a tissue, or at least your bent elbow, when coughing and sneezing

– staying home when not feeling well and calling health services — rather than just heading straight to the hospital — if experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. To contact Portugal’s national health service 24/7, call 808 24 24 24 and choose option 9 for English. It’s free, unless you’re roaming of course.

A Word on Using Face Masks

– The WHO says face masks help prevent further spread of infection when worn by those who are sick but are less effective in protecting healthy individuals. And the U.S. Surgeon General has warned that wearing a face mask may actually increase your chance of contracting the virus — people who don’t wear them properly tend to touch their faces, increasing the risk of spreading the disease, according to CNN.

And finally:

– “Don’t use smoking, alcohol or other drugs to deal with your emotions.” – The WHO

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