The government’s decision on when and how the current lockdown is lifted will be based exclusively on epidemiological data, the development of the current second wave of the pandemic and the experts’ conclusions, said Deputy Minister for Civil Protection & Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias during Monday’s live briefing.
The minister noted that the pandemic seems to follow a relative stabilization trend, and reiterated that the government’s sole priority is the protection of human lives.
Keeping up with restrictive measures is every person’s only way to ensure one’s well-being, he stressed, and insisted on everyone’s due diligence.
Responding to reporters’ questions on the number of infections with no obvious link to known clusters, the minister said that a 92.3 pct of all cases are traced “thoroughly enough”, including all the patient’s known contacts. There are currently some 190 employees tasked with contacts tracing for the Civil Protection Secretariat, while another 192 will be hired very soon, he pointed out.
When the recent record number of 3,350 new daily cases was registered, said Hardalias, the agency’s 190 contacts tracers were assigned approximately 18 cases each, a task that was completed within 10 to 14 hours. Some of these staff members come from the armed forces and others from the National Public Health Organization, and they apply themselves to the best of their abilities every day, he concluded.
Active infections in decline
The number of new SARS-CoV-2 diagnoses appear to be dropping in Europe, but the number of fatalities remains high, doctor Gkikas Magiorkinis said during the live briefing.
Magiorkinis, member of the Health ministry’s experts committee on the novel coronavirus, said that in Greece as well active infections appear to be dropping. In addition, the rate of tests coming out positive also appears to be dropping by around 50 pct, relative to last Monday. “This drop is particularly notable in large urban centers – Attica and Thessaloniki regions – which suggests there is a margin to improve compliance with restriction measures in the rest of Greece,” he said.
The doctor warned however that the viral load is “extremely heavy in northern Greece, particularly Thessaloniki,” and other northern cities, as well as Thessaly, central Greece.
“Last week, Attica showed clear signs of small improvement, and Thessaloniki did as well, but it’s too early to reach safe conclusions,” Magiorkinis said, adding that the situation remains critical and observing measures is necessary for the lifting of the lockdown, “whenever that happens.”
Stabilization not fast enough
The number of hospitalized coronavirus patients in Greece exceeds 4,000, while 86 pct of ICU beds for Covid-19 patients are occupied, said Professor Vana Papaevangelou during Monday’s live briefing on the latest stats and figures.
The health ministry’s committee of experts member added that 81 pct of ICU beds in Attica are occupied; in northern Greece, that number is 99 pct.
Papaevangelou said that although there is a stabilization trend and even indications of a reduction in new infections in northern Greece, “this is not happening as fast as we want, indicating that not everyone is observing health safety restrictions.”
Drawing a comparison between the flu and coronavirus, that several people have voiced, the medical expert underlined that “numbers and data in our country show a different picture.” As an example, she said, “as you can see we had nearly 100 deaths a day, while the seasonal flu never exceed 200 deaths in any one year.”
She also said that although 85 pct of patients who died of Covid-19 were aged 65 or more, some 183 people younger than 65 were intubated so far in November, and another 117 patients younger than 65 died during that time. “Therefore, this infection concerns us all,” she said, regardless of age.
170 doctors volunteer
The number of doctors in the private sector who have offered to assist public hospitals at the epidemiologically burdened city of Thessaloniki is 170, said the president of the Panhellenic Medical Association Athanasios Exadaktylos on Monday.
Of these, 20 come from Athens, 25 from Larissa, while the rest come from all the medical associations in the country, responding to the Health Ministry’s call for assistance in the increased number of hospitalizations at Thessaloniki, he added.
Exadaktylos’ statement came in response to an earlier statement by government spokesman Stelios Petsas, who had said that so far only 8 private sector doctors have offered to contribute to the national health system’s struggle against the pandemic.