Secretaria Regional de Saúde e Proteção Civil
Madeira’s success strategy to “Protect, Start over and Recover” – Beyond the call of duty for COVID-19
Months before the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was even reported in Portugal, the Autonomous Region of Madeira already had a plan in place to control the pandemic. This bustling tourist town became among the first areas in Europe to implement a large-scale pandemic response strategy, designed to protect both visitors and residents alike.
Madeira’s Regional Secretariat for Health and Civil Protection (SRS) started to develop its COVID-19 contingency plan on January 17th, a full six weeks before the first confirmed case in Portugal was reported on March 2nd. The SRS response strategy was released on January 28th, long before the national health authority publicly presented its own recommended strategy to deal with the pandemic.
The SRS strategy was embodied in a contingency plan and in a new internal new protocol. All of the SRS’ departments—the Regional Civil Protection Service (SRPC), the Institute of Health Administration (IASAUDE) and the Health Service of Madeira (SESARAM)—worked together seamlessly to implement Madeira’s COVID response plan.
The contingency plan contained relatively aggressive mitigation measures such as mandatory quarantine for all arrivals, the generalized use of masks, mandatory tests for all passengers that arrive in Madeira’s airports, and a cordon sanitaire for the first cluster of locally-transmitted cases. Eventually, these initiatives far exceeded the recommendations provided by Portugal’s national health authority.