In a public health crisis, migrants are among the most at risk. Since they don’t have full access to the healthcare system, they have a greater chance of not seeking medical help when needed and perhaps spreading that illness to others. To solve this problem, Portugal is temporarily granting migrants and asylum seekers with pending residency application permanent resident rights, thereby giving them full access to the country’s healthcare system until July 1, according to Reuters.
The council explained that the decision was made in order to reduce public health risks for the applicants and border agents who are still taking in appointments at the immigration offices.
“People should not be deprived of their rights to health and public service just because their application has not yet been processed,” said Claudia Veloso, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to Reuters.
The full citizenship status grants access to public services such as healthcare, welfare benefits, bank accounts, and work and rental contracts.