LISBON, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Portugal on Tuesday welcomed the second team of German military health professionals who assist the country in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
The German Army's transport plane landed at the military airport of Figo Maduro in Lisbon, and the team was received by members of the Portuguese government before the medics took up their posts at the Hospital da Luz.
Portugal's Secretary of State for Health, Diogo Serras Lopes, expressed "enormous thanks" to this second team.
The contribution made by the first team, which arrived in Portugal three weeks ago and will leave on Feb. 25, "in an extraordinarily difficult time was very important, and this second team will also make an excellent contribution," he said.
Serras Lopes told journalists that despite the recent drop in the number of new coronavirus cases, the pressure on Portugal's hospitals remains high.
Catarina Sarmento, secretary of state for human resources and war veterans, said: "This is a crisis for everyone. Portugal has always had a great tradition of solidarity with other countries," and for that reason, it "recognizes with commitment the effort and gesture of the German military personnel."
Martin Ney, Germany's ambassador to Lisbon, said that German aid will continue for another six weeks regardless of the evolution of the epidemiological situation in Portugal.
"The German medical team will continue to work side by side with Portuguese doctors to save lives, as has been successfully achieved in the past three weeks," the ambassador said.
German aid to Portugal began on Jan. 25 following a request for help from Portugal's Minister of Health Marta Temido to German Minister of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
Portugal recorded 63 new deaths related to COVID-19 and 1,032 new cases of infection in the last 24 hours. The country has registered 16,086 fatalities and 799,106 infections since the beginning of the pandemic.
A total of 3,012 patients are hospitalized, 597 of them in intensive care, while 4,567 people have been reported to have recovered.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in Portugal and other countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 255 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 73 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Tuesday.