LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal’s fragile health care system is under increasing pressure due to a worrying rise in coronavirus infections, with the country reporting 10,947 new cases and 166 deaths on Saturday, the worst increase since the pandemic began on Saturday. last year. The cases, which occur a day after a new lockdown was established, brings the total number of cases in a country of just over 10 million people to 539,416, and the death toll rises to 8,709. The number of infections per 100,000 people measured during the last 14 days is 901, almost double that in neighboring Spain, which was the most affected, according to data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. The health system, which before the pandemic had the fewest number of critical care beds per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe, can house a maximum of 672 patients with COVID-19 in the ICU, according to data from the Ministry of Health. There are currently 638 people in ICUs, and the Portuguese Association of Hospital Administrators said the number of coronavirus patients needing hospitalization is likely to increase dramatically over the next week. A group of three major Lisbon hospitals had only three intensive care beds left for coronavirus patients on Saturday morning, according to the Observador newspaper. Media images of ambulances with coronavirus patients queuing outside hospitals in Lisbon and elsewhere while waiting for beds to be vacated have raised fears that the healthcare system is close to reaching its limit. “I received information about a patient who died inside an ambulance,” Jaime Soares, director of the Portuguese Firefighters League, told the Lusa news agency, adding that hospitals are also running out of emergency stretchers. In Porto, the country’s second-largest city, the Sao Joao hospital is already receiving “several” Lisbon patients as hospitals in the capital struggle to cope, a spokesman said.
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