From the week of October 26 to November 1, Portugal had an excess of mortality for all reasons, that is, with a number of deaths in excess of what would be expected for that time of year. After 17 consecutive weeks, everything indicates that the country is no longer in this situation. “Probable end of the period of excess mortality observed since week 44/2020”, says the last flu surveillance bulletin of the National Health Institute Dr. Ricardo Jorge (Insa).
The report covers week 8 of this year – February 22-28 – and puts the number of deaths recorded that week within the expected levels for that time of year. A return to expected values about four months after Insa marked the beginning of this long period with higher mortality. The document does not reveal any possible causes for the phenomenon. However, this was the time when the country saw an increase in cases of Covid-19, culminating in the third wave of the pandemic after falling slightly around the Christmas season.
At the end of October, the daily number of Covid deaths rose from less than 30 to a maximum of 303 by January 28. In a recent hearing in Parliament on the Pandemic Surveillance Committee, some of the mathematicians heard that higher mortality was related to the lower responsiveness of critical care caused by the increase in patients who differentiated one at the height of the pandemic Third, supply need vacancies.
According to the information system for death certificates (Sico) of the Directorate-General for Health (DGS), which the PUBLIC analyzed in late January, this was the month with the highest number of deaths in the past 12 years.
Also early in the year was a period of very low temperatures, which was heavily linked to the occurrence of respiratory infections – there were virtually no cases of flu this year, but the Sentinela Network detected other circulating respiratory viruses – and the worsening of chronic illnesses leading to hospitalization, especially in the elderly and in poorer clinical condition. Preliminary data from Insa, released by Jornal de Negócios in early February, indicated that the common cold was responsible for 24% of deaths recorded in the first month of the year.
With a significant decrease in the incidence of new cases of Covid, pressure on the healthcare system appears to be sustaining the downward trend. As in the previous week’s report, the number of primary health care consultations – including surveillance visits – continues to decline for reasons of Covid. At week 8 there were about 25,000 nationally, up from 200,000 about a month ago.