A study released on Thursday indicated that the number of critically ill patients admitted to the intensive care units (ICUs) in Portugal due to COVID-19 would have tripled in the first half of April without the confinement measures imposed by the government.
Researchers from the National School of Public Health (ENSP) of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa noted that, without the lockdown, the National Health Service (SNS) would have to receive 748 critically ill patients in the ICUs, almost tripling the 229 patients who needed that kind of care.
“In this scenario, the 528 intensive care beds that the SNS had at the time could not have been sufficient to meet all needs, as happened in Italy and Spain,” the study found.
“The early action gave SNS time to acquire protective equipment, increase its capacity to test and cope with the increased hospital and intensive care demand caused by the pandemic,” said the researchers.
When Portugal started the lockdown on March 19, there were only 62 cases of infection and no deaths, and “the Portuguese effectively adhered to the containment measures enacted by the authorities, reducing their mobility by about 80 percent,” the study noted.
According to the researchers, social isolation measures reduced overall cases of contamination and deaths by 25 percent, based on data published by the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) in comparison with the number projected for that moment using an ARIMA model, which is the most accepted modeling of time series forecasts.
On Thursday, the seventh meeting to analyze the epidemiological situation in Portugal takes place at the National Authority for Medicines and Health Products (Infarmed), on the eve of the decision of the Council of Ministers on the third phase of de-confinement.
As of Wednesday, Portugal reported 31,292 cases of COVID-19 infection and 1,356 associated deaths, according to the latest daily bulletin from the DGS.