The military support of the National Health Service in connection with the fight against SARS-CoV-2 began in the first hour. On March 19, the day after the President of the Republic declared the first state of emergency, there were reports of tents scattered across health units to search for suspected cases and thousands of beds left in the military facilities of the Provided in the country. This was followed by the disinfection of houses and schools, the opening of rooms for positive cases, awareness-raising campaigns, interventions in prisons and the support of epidemiological investigations. As of Wednesday, the administration of the anti-Antikovid-19 vaccination plan passed into the hands of the military. The icing on the cake is a bunker in Oeiras, where all support for the armed forces in the fight against the pandemic is coordinated.
Screening of suspected cases
In March, the Armed Forces made 2,000 beds available to bolster the National Health Service’s “Hospitalization of Non-Seriously Infected and With Favorable Development” capacity and 300 to support professionals in several military units in response to the Covid-19 pandemic The armed forces provided their health network with campaign tents that were set up next to ten SNS facilities to strengthen their ability to triage and isolate suspected cases.
Disinfectant gel and tests
The military laboratory for chemical and pharmaceutical products increased the production of disinfectant gel to two thousand liters right at the beginning of the pandemic. In addition, the LMPQF developed a “laboratory procedure” for the detection of coronavirus “in biological samples” using the same method used by the doctor at the National Reference Laboratory, Ricardo Jorge.
Beds at Ota Air Base
In April, an outbreak in a hostel in Lisbon resulted in Ota Air Base in Alenquer providing beds to more than a hundred foreign citizens infected with SARS-CoV-2. A total of 500 beds were prepared on this basis alone to support similar cases. The “offer” was repeated in other parts of the country, especially when social isolation had to be ensured and the reception centers of the Portuguese Refugee Council were overcrowded.
Disinfection of homes and schools
One of the military’s first functions through the biological, chemical, and radiological defense element was the decontamination of large areas, as began in several homes around the country that had positive cases of SARS-CoV-2 (the most common in Vila Real). In May, the disinfection task was expanded to include the 540 schools that were reopened for 11th and 12th grade students. During this phase, 60 Army and Navy teams also carried out confidence and security measures in the schools, including training teachers and staff and raising student awareness. These actions were later extended to prisons when the first outbreaks began.
In October it was revealed that three military personnel were working with the Lisbon and Vale do Tejo Regional Health Administration (ARS) to manage the forecast for “Covid-19 beds” and the expense rate of each hospital in that region A group of military personnel who specializing in data processing, strategic planning and forecasting, introduced a new mathematical model that now allows predictability at the level of available beds after 15 days (instead of four).
Bunker against Covid-19
The nerve center for articulating the action of the armed forces in the fight against the Covid-19 was installed in the Joint Command for Military Operations (CCOM) in Oeiras. There it became possible to get a global overview of all ongoing actions of the military and to display in almost real time the diagrams and maps with the status of every situation in which the military is involved. Incidentally, this room is disguised from the outside called a bunker.
Lisbon Military Hospital
Within nine months, military hospitals received 1,107 patients with Covid-19. In its two centers in Lisbon and Porto, the Hospital das Forças Armadas welcomed 652 patients from public hospital units. The military support center covid-19 in the Belém à Ajuda military hospital in Lisbon also received 455 patients. Over time, the capacity of these hospitals has increased.
The surge in cases late last year resulted in tracers having to conduct epidemiological research over the phone. The military created teams to integrate this Trace-Covid platform and in December the PUBLIC visited the two rooms of the geographic information center of the army, where 15 military personnel followed the contacts of the people infected with the coronavirus. By January 7, military teams had conducted a total of 86,014 epidemiological surveys. At that time, 22 teams were deployed to support the ARS do Norte, Centro, Lisbon and Vale do Tejo (LVT) as well as Alentejo with a total of 433 soldiers.