Germany’s military will deploy medical workers and equipment to Portugal where intensive care units (ICUs) in hospitals across the country nears full capacity amid a third wave of COVID-19 cases.
Germany will send a plane carrying 26 doctors, nurses, and hygiene experts and 40 ventilators to Lisbon on Feb. 3, according to a statement by the German defense ministry.
The defense ministry also stated that the military will bring 150 hospital beds to Portugal after the country asked for help from the German government, reporting last Jan. 30 that only seven out of 850 beds in ICUs for COVID-19 patients on its mainland remained vacant.
Portuguese health authorities also reported that ambulances would queue for hours sometimes due to lack of beds for patients.
“We support our friends in Portugal who find themselves in an especially dramatic situation,” German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Feb. 1.
“The coronavirus is a challenge for us all, and the German health care system is under pressure, too. Nevertheless, we are convinced that, especially in times like these, European solidarity is indispensable,” Kramp-Karrenbauer further said.
A German armed forces spokesperson told DW News that personnel will first be vaccinated against COVID-19 before being deployed.
“We don’t send our personnel unprotected,” the spokesperson said.
The German military team aims to initially stay for three weeks, according to the defense ministry.
Last week, Germany sent military medics to Portugal to assess the situation and how they could help.
According to data from the Portuguese health ministry, the country has recorded 5,805 cases on Feb. 1, bringing the total number of cases to 726,321. Portugal has also recorded 12,757 deaths.
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