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Covid-19: Peak of cases is predicted to be next week

Published on 01/02/2021

The predicted peak of Covid-19 cases in Portugal is set for next week. Experts also note that hospitalizations will rise until mid-February. As for the contagion numbers, they expect a decline, but a very slow one.

img decoding=”async” src=”http://algarvedailynews.com/images/news2/18769.jpg” alt=”COVID-19: PEAK OF CASES IS SET FOR NEXT WEEK” width=”160″ style=”margin-right: 10px; margin-bottom: 5px; float: left;” />The predicted peak of Covid-19 cases in Portugal is set for next week. Experts also note that hospitalizations will rise until mid-February. As for the contagion numbers, they expect a decline, but a very slow one.

The impact of confinement in reducing the transmission of Covid-19 in Portugal is very subtle, but experts already see some signs of a slowdown in new cases. Even so, they are unanimous in affirming that the country continues to maintain a growing trend of infections, hospitalizations and deaths. With some uncertainty, there are models that point to a peak in cases next week, which means that it is only in the second half of February that the relief should reach hospitals. Until then, experts estimate, the pressure will rise.

“The number of patients in need of intensive care should continue to increase until the end of the first half of February, reaching a maximum value of around 1100, at which point it will start to decrease”, points out Maria Luísa Morgado, mathematician at the University of Trás -os-Montes and Alto Douro and one of those responsible for the model developed with the National Institute of Health Doutor Ricardo Jorge (INSA) and the Faculty of Science and Technology of Universidade Nova de Lisboa. “The model indicates that, in confinement scenarios of two weeks, one month or two months, the number of inpatients in intensive care at the end of March will be, respectively, 1000, 500 and 260.”

The current confinement took effect two weeks ago, on 14th January. The rules were tightened five days later, and schools closed on the 22nd January. Experts say it is too early to see the impact of school closures, but the average number of people that each infected person has spread the disease to (Rt) has started to fall, although it remains above 1. According to INSA, Rt went from 1.23 in the first days of the year to 1.13 to 22 January. “A downward trend is maintained, although slow for what would be necessary”, summarizes Carlos Antunes, mathematician at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon.

According to Google’s mobility data, analyzed by INSA, on the first day without classes, confinement was 69% of the maximum recorded in March and April, which was already ‘tighter’ than in the previous week (46%). TomTom, a localization technology company, also concludes that this week the Portuguese used the car less than in the previous one, although the level of traffic is higher than March. Between the current confinement and that of March there are “many differences”, underlines Milton Severo, a researcher at the Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto (ISPUP). “The previous one occurred in the spring and now it is winter, the availability of people was greater, the number of cases is much higher and we have the new variants that cause more contagions.”

According to the ISPUP researcher, in the last few days there has already been a “deceleration” of infections in the North, Center and Alentejo. “Even before the confinement, on January 14, there was a reduction in the rate of growth of cases. It went from doubling from 9 to 23 days, probably due to the natural decrease in contacts after the holiday period. ”

Carlos Antunes, co-author of the projections presented in Infarmed, also points out the same trend: “The evidence of the effect of confinement is very subtle, given the short period since the schools closed, but there is a slowdown in the global incidence. The peak is becoming more and more defined and is predicted to be somewhere between the 5th and the 9th of February, resulting in what could be between 17 and 18 thousand daily cases.” By the end of this month, the model points to an average of 16,400 new infections, more than 7,000 hospitalizations, 860 in intensive care and over 300 daily deaths.

“The proportion of inpatients in intensive care dropped from 18% to 12%”, reveals Óscar Felgueiras

Portugal continues to be the country in the world with the most new cases and deaths per million inhabitants . Death records are broken, daily infections exceed 15 thousand, and the percentage of positive tests is above 19%, when it should not exceed 5%, which remains a sign that there are many cases to be detected. “The country is at the limit of its capacity, whether in testing, screening or hospital care”, warns Óscar Felgueiras, a mathematician specialized in epidemiology. “We are about to reach the most critical weeks, and the post-closure confinement of schools will make a decisive contribution to controlling the rise in cases.”

Since the beginning of the year alone, more than 4 thousand people have died with Covid-19. Lethality is rising, especially in the elderly, and with greater intensity in Lisbon than in Porto. One of the explanations for the underestimated projections of deaths is the “decreased response capacity due to the saturation of hospital services”, says Óscar Felgueiras. “A symptomatic indicator of this is the proportion of inpatients in intensive care, which dropped from 18% at Christmas to the current 12%, combined with an increase in positivity.”

Maria Luísa Morgado also points out the possible impact of the British and South African variants, “The uncertainties associated with these assumptions are difficult to incorporate into mathematical models.”
em style=”color: #ffffff;”>Original article available in Portuguese at http://postal.pt/