By Alyssa McMurtry
OVIEDO, Spain (AA) – Portugal is looking beyond its borders for help to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic as the Health Ministry reported a record 291 more deaths from coronavirus on Tuesday.
The surge brings the country’s total death toll to 11,012. In 2020, 6,906 people had died of COVID-19 in the southern European country.
New contagions remain high, with nearly 10,800 new cases in the country of 10 million people.
However, after 12 days of lockdown, new infections appear to be dropping from the peak of more than 15,000 on Jan. 23.
Portugal has one of the world’s highest coronavirus infection rates, and hospitals are struggling to cope with the massive influx of patients.
“We still have beds available, but what’s really challenging is managing our human resources,” Health Minister Marta Temido told Portuguese broadcaster RTP on Monday, calling the current reality “unimaginable.”
She said Portugal is asking the international community for help in dealing with one of the world’s worst COVID-19 surges.
“We are activating all the mechanisms we have available internationally to provide the best care for our patients,” she said, adding that Portugal’s geographical situation at the edge of the Iberian Peninsula makes it difficult to send patients to other countries.
Local officials in the Lisbon district of Torres Vedras, meanwhile, have asked the central government to bring in foreign doctors and nurses.
In the request, officials said the city’s hospital “is reaching an unsustainable situation” made worse by the inability of other nearby hospitals to help. They said their request was highly urgent, warning of “a potentially catastrophic situation.”