German military doctors assess Portugal’s imminent call for international aid

German military doctors arrived in Lisbon yesterday to assess the situation in the capitals overrun hospitals ahead of an official call for international aid, described today as imminent.

Health minister Marta Temido intimated on Monday that Portugal was at the point of considering sending Covid patients abroad for treatment.

Since then the country has seen situations in which oxygen support has literally ‘collapsed’ in one hospital – requiring a mass-transfer of patients to other units; and appeals for foreign doctors and nurses from Hospital de Torres Vedras, which has exceeded the point where it can provide adequate staff-patient ratios.

Today, President Marcelo’s 10th decree for a renewed State of Emergency will be voted on in parliament, and it is understood to allow for the hiring of both retired and foreign healthcare workers.

With a request for international aid ‘imminent’, reports explain the Portuguese government is in discussions with the German government over “possible support”.

It was in this context that two military doctors visited hospitals in the capital to “evaluate the needs in terms of personnel and materials”.

Jornal das Notícias adds that “use of Spanish hospitals is also being considered”.

The German team involving at least two military doctors came on what is being described as an “observation mission” to Hospital Amadora-Sintra (the one where over 50 patients had to be transferred on Tuesday due to failings in the supply of oxygen. A hospital source has since described the incident as a bit like “a fall in pressure when everyone has turned on the taps at the same time”).

The visit went ahead under the auspices of the ministries of health and defence.

As to the possibility of using Spanish hospitals for patients Portugal’s cannot take, João Gouveia – president of the Portuguese Society of Intensive Medicine – has told Spanish newspaper A Voz da Galiza, that it is simply logical to transfer patients by road over the border to hospitals closest to the frontier. This suggests Spain’s ‘virus situation’ vis-a-vis pressure on hospitals is markedly less dramatic.

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