Portugal Becomes First EU Country to open COVID-19 Drive-thru Test Center as the State of Emergency looks set to be extended

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A Coronavirus Drive-Thru test center has been opened in the Algarve, Portugal
COVID19 DRIVE THRU TESTS: Alicante hospital began taking samples this morning. FILE PIC

PORTUGAL HAS TAKEN THE LEAD IN THE FIGHT AGAINST THE SPREAD OF THE CORONAVIRUS BY OPENING UP AN DRIVE-THRU TEST CENTRE.

The centre opened its doors to the general public today and has already seen a large number of Portuguese and expat residents in the queue waiting to get tested. Only suspicious cases are being sent there as a precautionary measure, you cannot just turn up and expect to be tested.

A Coronavirus Drive-Thru test center has been opened in the Algarve, Portugal
The Algarve Stadium can be used as a test centre now all sports events have been cancelled.

The test facility is set up next to the Algarve stadium, between Faro and Loulé, allowing the tracking of cases referred by hospitals and doctors.

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The tests will then be analysed at the Regional Public Health Laboratory of the Algarve, located in front of the stadium, and the answer obtained “in eight hours”, the president of the Regional Health Administration (ARS) of the Algarve, Paulo Morgado explained in a press conference.

“It is not a screening centre that is open to anyone who wants to do a test, it is to carry out tests on suspicious cases that have already been identified,” Paulo Morgado told Lusa, on the sidelines of the centre’s public presentation.

That official stressed that it was only now that the structure was set up because “it is something that takes time to implement and because now is the time to do it”.


Paulo Morgado stressed that the centre intends to “divert people with mild symptoms from the hospital” and that the helpline to the doctor – responsible for the “validation of suspected cases” – will continue to refer cases that have “greater severity and the need for a hospital stay”.

He added that the Hospital de Faro “will not fail to do the tests”, but that it has the possibility of referring “whoever considers necessary” to the centre now installed.


Coronavirus Portugal
According to the official, there is the capacity to carry out “300 daily tests” of covid-19. However, ARS is looking to “increase that volume with partnerships with the university and private institutions”.

Before the collection site, two control points are set up, with the identification to be made by the authorities “without opening the windows” and “the person only lowers the glass at the time of the collection”, he stressed.

The screening centre for covid-19 screening will be open from 9.00am to 9.00pm and “more employees will be hired to ensure 24-hour operation”, if necessary, he assured.

When questioned, Paulo Morgado reaffirmed that the mandatory quarantine declared to those who arrive in the region is being “properly communicated” to visitors – since cases in the Algarve “are imported” – and that the application of this measure remains “in the conscience of each one”.

“In the Algarve there have been few cases per day, but in the future there will be more, we are preparing for that. The measures taken, namely, the social distance, are essential so that there is no transmission”, he reinforced.

Portugal has 14 confirmed deaths associated with the covid-19 virus, two more than on Saturday, and 1,600 infected people, 35 of whom in the Algarve, according to today’s bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health (DGS).

According to DGS data, there are 320 more confirmed cases of infection with the new coronavirus, which causes the covid-19 disease, than on Saturday.

Of the 1,600 infected people, the vast majority (1,431) are recovering at home, 169 are hospitalised, 41 of whom are in intensive care units, six more than on Saturday.

The Prime Minister, António Costa, has admitted “with high probability” that the state of emergency in Portugal will not be over after the initial 15-day period.

In his words:

“Most likely it will not be 15 days from now that the reasons [for declaring a state of emergency] will have disappeared”, admitted António Costa, who was speaking to the country after a meeting of the Council of Ministers, to discuss the measures of social and economic support for the population affected by the covid-19 pandemic.

“We cannot prevent this impact from occurring, but we cannot accept that this impact will become irreversible,” he added.

In view of the uncertainty about the evolution of the covid-19 pandemic, António Costa underlined that “there is something absolutely certain”, which is the need to “collectively preserve ourselves until June”, to later assess the damage “and to envision a future together”.

For that, he added, “it is essential that the companies that exist today do not permanently close their doors,” he added.

The Emergency Measures Introduced in Portugal

Supermarkets, pharmacies, bakeries, petrol stations and banks will remain open but must implement capacity restrictions.People over 70 and those considered vulnerable should only leave home to grab essential goods, go to the doctor or walk their pets.

All other citizens should avoid leaving their homes but can go to work, assist their families and accompany minors for recreation, among other essential activities

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