Screening tests to begin in nursing homes

in News · 30-03-2020 10:03:00 · 0 Comments

As of today, the government will conduct a covid-19 screening test operation in all nursing homes in the municipalities of Lisbon, Aveiro, Évora and Guarda, then extending to the rest of the country.

According to the newspaper Público, this is a joint operation between the Ministries of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security (which protects homes) articulated with the Ministry of Science, in partnership with the Red Cross and the Institute of Molecular Medicine (IMM) from the University of Lisbon, which created its own version of a virus diagnostic kit.

“We are going to start on Monday [today] an operation to test the covid in homes across the country, to prevent contamination and spread,” Labour Minister Ana Mendes Godinho told the newspaper.

Also in statements to the newspaper, the Minister of Science, Manuel Heitor, stressed that “this is a complicated logistics operation”, since the tests will have to be delivered to the laboratory.

The minister explains that the collection will be made on the ground by the Portuguese Red Cross.

Thus, starting today, the tests will be carried out in the municipalities of Lisbon, Aveiro, Évora and Guarda and in the middle of the week they will extend to the homes of the municipalities of Loulé and Portimão, through the Centre for Academic Research and Biomedical Training do Algarve, in collaboration with IMM.

The Minister of Labour revealed that a risk analysis was carried out according to the municipalities where there are more homes with a greater number of people.

"We will start with the professionals who are working in the homes and also with people who have some type of suspicion and symptoms", he added.

Ana Mendes Godinho clarified that this operation in homes is preventive and is parallel to the normal operation of the Ministry of Health when cases are detected.

The minister also told Público that she predicts that in the second week of testing in homes, the response capacity has increased.

"The objective is to carry out tests throughout the country," he said, adding that the remaining counties in the country where the tests will be applied are being identified, according to the priority levels, the number of workers in the daily capacity of the tests.

"We are drawing the map," he said.

Público also indicates that the diagnostic tests to be applied are the result of a challenge launched on March 12 by scientist Maria Manuel Mota to researchers at IMM, the institute she runs, to create their own kit following the protocol established by the Centers for Control and United States Disease Prevention.

The kits, according to the newspaper citing Maria Manuel Mota, use reagents produced in Portugal, by the biotechnology company NZYTech.

Maria Manuel Mota estimated to the newspaper that the IMM could soon reach 300 tests per day and, later, 1,000. Each test has a cost of about 30 euros.

The Minister of Labuor, Ana Mendes Godinho told the newspaper that the IMM "can do 150 to 200 tests per day in the first week of operation".

"We are going to go ahead with 10,000 tests that the IMM can commit to", he said.

The Government has already announced the creation of a multidisciplinary team to permanently monitor homes that can be called in case of emergency, while the Armed Forces can help with house cleaning.

In Portugal, according to the balance made on Sunday by the Directorate-General for Health, 119 deaths were registered, and 5,962 cases of confirmed infections were recorded. Of those infected, 486 are hospitalized, 138 of whom are in intensive care units, and there are 43 patients who have recovered.


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