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Cablegate: Portugal H1n1 Update: Number Three in Europe

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DE RUEHLI #0458 2321445
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201445Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY LISBON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7834
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHPD/AMCONSUL PONTA DELGADA 0620

UNCLAS LISBON 000458

SIPDIS

HHS FOR CDC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC AMED KFLU ETRD EAGR ECON EC PGOV PO
SUBJECT: PORTUGAL H1N1 UPDATE: NUMBER THREE IN EUROPE

1. According to the European Center for Disease Prevention
and Control (ECDC) Portugal has the highest rate of new H1N1
infection in Europe and is third in the total number of cases
with 1,833 but has no confirmed fatalities to date. Portugal
has a population of 10.7 million. 76 additional cases were
confirmed in the last 24 hours. Eight patients are
hospitalized, two of whom are expected to be released from
the hospital shortly. Patients here range from 10 months to
90 years old, with 67 percent between 10 and 29 years old.
Most of the new cases have occurred in the southern Algarve
region, a popular domestic and international tourist
destination.

2. Paulo Moreira of the ECDC Executive Committee maintained
"the surge of cases in itself means nothing of concern to the
country." Cristina Furtado, lead epidemiologist with the
surveillance unit at the National Health Institute,
attributed the higher number of cases to the country's
efforts toward early diagnosis. Both researchers declined to
predict when the spread of the illness will peak. Health
Director Francisco George, however, said the country is
experiencing higher than normal rates of influenza infection,
with 700,000 cases reported in 2009 and more than twice that
number expected next year. George expects infection rates to
increase again with the beginning of the school year.

3. Health Minister Ana Jorge has been criticized recently
for shortcomings in the dial-in national helpline, which has
been overwhelmed with calls. The public has been instructed
to call in if they suspect they are infected, but faced with
hold times of 90 minutes or more, patients are instead
proceeding directly to health centers, possibly infecting
additional people along the way. After a meeting with GOP
health officials, the company operating the health line
agreed to expand capacity to deal with the increased call
volume.

4. Despite the recent surge in infection rates Portuguese
health officials are confident they are adequately prepared
to deal with the illness. Portugal has placed an advance
order for 6 million doses of H1N1 vaccine for 45 million
euros. A vaccination campaign focused on the elderly,
pregnant women, health professionals, and other high-risk
groups is scheduled to begin September 15.


For more reporting from Embassy Lisbon and information about Portugal,
please see our Intelink site:

http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/portal:port ugal
BALLARD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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