Portugal's infection surge slows, hospitals still strained - Metro US

Portugal’s infection surge slows, hospitals still strained

A COVID-19 patient transferred from Lisbon arrives at Nelio Mendonca Hospital in Funchal, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Funchal

LISBON (Reuters) – Daily infections and deaths from COVID-19 in Portugal retreated further from last week’s records on Tuesday and fewer patients were in intensive care, easing pressure on overstretched hospitals.

Deaths rose by 260 to 13,017, below Monday’s increase of 275 and down from an all-time high of 303 reported on Thursday and Sunday, data from the health authority DGS showed.

Portugal reported close to half of all its COVID-19 deaths last month, highlighting an acceleration in cases that has prompted several European nations to offer help.

New infections totalled 5,540 after 5,805 the previous day, in a sharp slowdown from 16,432 last Thursday.

The number of COVID patients on hospitals wards and in intensive care units dropped, the latter by 13 to 852.

Portugal’s hospitals have been on the verge of collapse, with ambulances sometimes queuing for hours because of a lack of beds.

As Germany prepared to send military medical personnel and equipment on Wednesday, European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said Brussels “stands ready to help should Portugal request EU assistance”.

The government imposed a new lockdown in mid-January as the pandemic worsened and has been expecting some respite this week.

Officials have blamed the huge increase in infection and death rates on the more contagious variant first detected in Britain, while acknowledging that a relaxation of restrictions over the Christmas holidays also played a role.

(Reporting by Patricia Rua and Andrei Khalip, writing by Andrei Khalip)

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