Austria and Germany step in to help Portugal’s Covid crisis

Austria and Germany have today pledged to step in and help Portugal through its spiralling Covid crisis.

Intensive care patients are to be transported to Austria announced the country’s chancellor Sebastian Kurz, while Germany is sending health professionals and medical equipment.

Details coming through are brief for the time being.

Sebastian Kurz’s announcement came via a tweet in which he said: “The Covid-19 pandemic represents enormous challenges for all European countries. It is a demand of European solidarity to help quickly and without bureaucracy to save lives”.

Diário de Notícias says the offer of help came during a telephone conversation between Mr Kurz and Portuguese prime minister António Costa.

For now, it is unclear how many intensive care patients will be transferred to Austria, or by what means of transportation.

Says DN, Austria has already received patients from Italy, France and Montenegro through the pandemic. The country is currently in its third lockdown, in place since December 26. Non-essential commerce is closed, with citizens’ mobility limited. “This has reduced contagions to roughly 1,500 per day”, says DN.

With only 8.9 million inhabitants, Austria’s accumulated seven-day average of positive cases is down to 107 which means hospitals are nothing like as under pressure as those in Portugal.

Austria’s deaths since the start of the pandemic have reached 7.600. Portugal is currently registering over 12,000, with forecasts pointing to this increasing markedly for the next two weeks at least (click here).

As to help offered by Germany, this is arriving on Wednesday (February 3) in the form of around 26 military health professionals and intensive care equipment, says Público.

The announcement was made by Germany’s ministry of defence.

German magazine Der Spiegel reports the military doctors and para-medics “will initially remain on Portuguese territory for three weeks”.

They will be bringing with them 50 stationery and mobile ventilators, as well as 150 patient beds.

Health minister Marta Temido said early last week that ‘all mechanisms’ were being enacted on an international level to request help (click here)

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