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Minister apologises

legionellaIn possibly a first for recent Portuguese politics, a minister has apologised without being prompted. Health Minister, Adalberto Campos Fernandes, today apologised to surviving Legionnaires disease victims and said that they, or their surviving families, must be compensated for the damage done.

The statement was made in parliament during a discussion about the State health department budget for next year.

The minister said he believed the outbreak was due to a ‘technical failure’ which is ministerial speak for a lack of maintenance at the cooling towers and water deposits at the São Francisco Xavier Hospital in Lisbon where five victims so far have died.

The latest victim, a 76-year-old woman, died today and Campos Fernandes said that the hospital, the maintenance companies and the Lisbon and Tagus Valley Regional Health Authority also must apology to all of the victims.

The Legionnaires’ disease outbreak started on November 3rd and has infected 48-people, leaving five dead.

The outbreak has sparked public concern and the president of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has demanded that an exhaustive investigation be held as soon as possible.

But does the government really care?  The Legionella outbreak in Vila Franca de Xira, that infected over 400 and killed 12 in 2014, has been dealt with at a snail's pace with many victims running out of money and unable to continue with court action for compensation payments. There has been close to zero government support for those affected (here)

The difference is that the current outbreak is in a public hospital and the Vila Franca de Xira outbreak was from a privately owned fertilser factory.