The measure was taken following the recommendation of the Commission for Monitoring the National Response in Intensive Care Medicine for Covid-19 (CARNMI) in a meeting for "analysis of the regional epidemiological situation and bed occupancy in the LVT Region," the Ministry of Health (MS) said in a response to the Lusa agency.

"It was considered necessary for hospitals in the region to scale up their contingency plans to meet hospitalisation needs arising from a potentially growing demand," he said.

According to the Ministry, "the aim is to ensure that, if necessary, there is an increase in the capacity to respond to the critical patient".

The Ministry of Health points out that these guidelines had already been given in other phases of the pandemic, but in this case they are aimed especially at the Lisbon and Tagus Valley Region.

The MS recalls that a dispatch of 6 November, 2020 stated that "given the current growth in the incidence of Covid -19, the hospitals of the National Health Service (SNS) ensure the activation of the level of institutional contingency plans, previously approved, to ensure the response to local epidemiological needs balance the regional and interregional assistance effort, in particular, suspending during the month of November 2020, the non-urgent assistance activity.

"Thus, the guidance on activity to be cancelled is, as it has always been, for situations of programmed (non-urgent) care activity that, due to their nature or clinical priority, does not imply risk of life for the users, limitation of their prognosis and/or limitation of access to periodic treatment or surveillance," said the MS in its response to Lusa.