Germany will send 26 doctors, nurses and hygiene experts to Portugal on Wednesday to help prop up the nation's Covid-19 efforts as it battles one of the world's worst outbreaks, the German defense minister said on Monday. </p><div><p><em>"We support our friends in Portugal who find themselves in an especially dramatic situation,"</em> Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said.
The German military medical team will stay in Portugal for three weeks. Berlin is also sending 150 infusion machines and 50 ventilators, which are also set to arrive in Lisbon by plane on Wednesday.
Newspaper reports last week said the German armed forces had already received a request from Lisbon to help set up a field hospital in Portugal to increase its healthcare capacity.
Austria has also agreed to take some of Portugal’s Covid-19 patients and is reviewing how many it can accept, the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has said.
On Saturday, mainland Portugal had only seven intensive care unit (ICU) beds available out of 850 designated for coronavirus patients.
The occupancy rate in Portugal’s ICUs was around 94 percent on Monday, State Secretary for Health Antonio Lacerda Sales said.
Speaking during a press conference, Sales said that the country still has patient capacity but would draw on help from other countries if necessary, pointing to similar moves by Spain, Italy and France earlier in the pandemic.
Portugal, which has a population of 10 million, posted a further 5,805 Covid-19 infections on Monday, as well as 275 deaths from the virus – the tenth consecutive day of more than 250 fatalities.
Since the start of the pandemic, over 711,000 cases and 12,400 deaths have been recorded in Portugal.
Over 40 percent of the country’s cases and deaths were recorded in January alone, according to the Portuguese Directorate-General for Health.
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