LISBON, Portugal — Portugal’s health minister says authorities are considering asking other European Union countries for help amid a steep surge in COVID-19 cases.
Portugal has had the world’s worst rate of new daily cases and deaths per 100,000 people for the past week, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Health Minister Marta Temido says sending patients to other EU countries is not uncommon in the bloc. But, she says, Portugal has the disadvantage of being geographically remote and hospitals across the continent are under pressure from the pandemic. She says the country may instead be asking for medical workers to be sent.
Portuguese hospitals are under severe strain, Temido told public broadcaster RTP. “We have beds available,” she said. “What we’re struggling with is finding staff.”
That request may be difficult to fulfill, because all countries in the 27-nation bloc are dealing with their own pandemic strains, made more difficult now because of the emergence of virus variants.