Lisbon says the record 843 of the 850 intensive care beds allocated to COVID-19 patients on its continent are occupied.
Portugal said there were only seven vacant beds in intensive care units (ICUs) set up for COVID-19 cases on its continent as an increase in infections prompted authorities to send critical patients in the Portuguese Islands.
Data from the Ministry of Health showed on Saturday that out of 850 intensive care beds allocated to COVID-19 cases on the continent, a record 843 beds were now occupied. The nation of 10 million people has 420 additional intensive care beds for those suffering from other illnesses.
The ministry said the number of daily infections was 12,435, down from Thursday’s record of 16,432 when there were 293 deaths.
Portugal, which has so far reported a total of 12,179 COVID-19 deaths and 711,018 cases, has the world’s highest seven-day moving average of cases and deaths per capita, according to ourworldindata data tracking .org.
The Justice Department said on Friday that its forensic institute, whose role includes handling autopsies for police and others, had requested a refrigerated truck to hold the bodies, as funeral homes were unable to take them out fast enough.
An association representing funeral homes said public hospitals also lacked refrigerated space to preserve bodies. Some hospitals have installed cold containers to ease the pressure on their morgues.
With the number of beds on the mainland low, three patients requiring intensive care were airlifted from Lisbon to the Portuguese island of Madeira on Friday, where the healthcare system is under less pressure.
The government attributed the spike in infections to a move to ease restrictions over the Christmas season, attributing the speed at which infections have spread to a new variant first detected in the UK.
Portuguese health institute Ricardo Jorge told Lusa News Agency that the variant was likely to account for 65% of new COVID-19 cases within three weeks.
Portugal extended the lockdown until mid-February and imposed strict travel restrictions.