"We are again in a phase of immense pressure in the NHS and we are trying to respond, but we need everyone's help," the minister said at the beginning of the vaccination in the Misericórdia de Mora Integrated Continuous Care Unit, Évora.

Marta Temido noted that hospitals have experienced, since the beginning of the pandemic, "moments of great pressure", pointing out that all Portuguese "must understand that avoiding transmission is a way to help the NHS to respond, not only to covid, but to other types of diseases".

According to the government, Portugal is "again facing a growing trend of cases" of infection by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and "the next few days will naturally be very hard" in the country.

Asked by journalists about the lack of professionals in the NHS, the head of the health department stressed that "hospitals have authorisation for all contracts they can make", but noted that "the labour market in the health area, not only the Portuguese, but also others, is very under-resourced".

"On the Ministry of Health's side, our effort continues in the direction of articulation, transfer of patients, opening of communication channels and external contracting, namely conventions with the private", she said.

According to the ruler, the work of her Ministry "is to provide means and support for those in the front line at directorate level".