The Directorate-General for Health (DGS) in Portugal have announced that Covid-19 tests are no longer recommended for people without symptoms, and people hospitalised with the disease can receive visits.
The changes are part of updated ruling on cases of suspected or confirmed covid-19, which stresses that the high vaccination coverage and favourable epidemiological evolution allow “progress towards a response model focused on the prevention and treatment of serious illness, attentive to the pattern of circulation and the appearance of new variants of SARS-CoV-2”.
The health authority adds that, given the high vaccination rates in Portugal, most cases of covid-19 are mild in severity, have a self-limited duration and only require symptomatic treatment.
The DGS however reinforces that people with acute respiratory symptoms must adopt infection prevention and control measures, such as avoiding closed or crowded environments and maintaining physical distance, wearing a mask when in contact with other people or in shared spaces, maintaining etiquette breathing and washing and disinfection of hands, aeration and ventilation of interior spaces and disinfection of equipment and surfaces.
“The test for SARS-CoV-2 should be integrated in the context of clinical evaluation, only in people with symptoms of acute respiratory tract infection”, the document from the health authority states.
“Performing tests on people without symptoms is no longer recommended, as well as on people who do not have symptoms and who need to carry out interventions such as surgeries or tests”, says the DGS.
As for people with acute respiratory symptoms, they should be referred, through preferential contact with the SNS24, for “care appropriate to their clinical situation”, ranging from medical emergency (INEM), hospital emergency services, emergency care, primary health and self-care.
In the case of people with covid-19 on an outpatient basis (self-care), the norm indicates that they have to maintain physical distance, avoiding frequent spaces with crowds of people and using a mask with a good facial fit in the presence of other people until at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms.
In addition, they should monitor the symptoms and, in case of aggravation, contact their Family Health Unit or SNS24, for referral according to their clinical status.
In cases of hospitalization, the administrations of hospitals, hospital centers and local health units must allow visits to patients with covid-19, as well as ensure the right to a companion during pregnancy, childbirth, and in a pediatric context, provided compliance with infection prevention and control measures is guaranteed.
“Health units ensure that consultations are carried out for people with covid-19 in self-care in an outpatient clinic, whenever possible through telehealth, minimizing the travel of these people to situations of urgent and urgent intervention”.
As for nursing homes and similar structures, during the period of infection, visits to patients with covid-19 must be ensured, provided compliance with the contingency plan is guaranteed, including adequate use of personal protective equipment, says the statement from the DGS.