Greece’s ICUs still critically overwhelmed – New restrictive local measures

The last live briefing on the coronavirus pandemic’s course in Greece for the year 2020 by the health ministry’s regular panel of experts was launched on Tuesday evening by Professor Vana Papaevangelou, alongside Professor Gkikas Magiorkinis and Deputy Minister for Civil Protection & Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias.

Looking back to the coronavirus’ dispersal trajectory in Greece over the past 10 months, Papaevangelou said that the first case of infection in the country was registered on Wednesday, February 26. Up to December 28, some 136,000 cases were confirmed, of which 52 pct concerned men and most of these were detected in the 40-64 age group. Up until Monday, some 4,672 citizens have lost their lives to the novel coronavirus over those months, she added. It is obvious, she then observed, that the most vulnerable age group are those aged over 65, even if they only represent a 16.8 pct of all infections; they do, however, represent the 85 pct of all those who have so far died of Covid-19, she noted.

After a brief summer hiatus, the virus gradually kept returning until the end of October, when shortly thereafter the numbers of new infections, hospitalizations and admissions in intensive care units rose exponentially, bringing the national health system at the end of its tether.

However, with only a few days of 2020 left before the year expires, the new hope of several coronavirus vaccines and the government’s launch of the vaccination program has brought along a sense of new hope, she pointed up.

Still, health authorities have registered at least 2,000 currently active cases of infection in Attica and 1,600 in Thessaloniki, she stressed.

With the pandemic being far from over, Papaevangelou underlined that despite the joy and hope attached to inoculation with vaccines, people in Greece should not let their guard down, and should remain committed to keeping up with all safety protocols and restrictions.

Not ready for social relaxation

The number of active coronavirus infections continues to drop nationwide, said Professor Gkikas Magiorkinis at the briefing.

By consequence, pressure on the country’s national health system has subsided, he added, recording a 22 pct reduction in intensive care admissions since the beginning of December, and a 50 pct reduction in overall hospitalizations. Regardless of these figures, Greece’s ICUs are still critically overwhelmed, he stressed.

The national health system is decongesting much slower than how fast it became so burdened, the professor noted, and this is why “we are not yet at the point where we can say that ‘we can now start being socially relaxed.'”

Some local measures extended, some lifted

The intensified restrictive measures currently in effect at the West Attica municipalities of Aspropyrgos and Elefsina are extended until Wednesday January 6, announced Deputy Minister for Civil Protection & Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias at the live briefing.

The West Attica municipality of Mandra-Idilia, where the same set of stricter measures had been put into effect for one more week at the same time with both Aspropyrgos and Elefsina, are being lifted, as the number of new cases there dropped to 14 on Tuesday, from a recent high of 30, he added.

Meanwhile, tougher measures in the region of Kozani are also extended to January 6, where 96 new cases were registered on Tuesday, from last week’s high of 152. However, the very same severe measures are lifted at Kozani’s municipalities of Velvedo and Servion.

Additionally, due to the high epidemiological burden observed at the village of Keli, in the municipality of Amideo, at Florina region, additional restrictive measures will come into effect there as of 06:00 on Wednesday for ten days.

Hardalias urged the citizens at Florina region to remain on high alert against the spread of the coronavirus and observe all safety restrictions diligently; to the same effect, he also urged people in the Attica municipalities of Keratsini, Drapetsona, Ilion and Acharnes, and also people at the Zefyri area of the Filis municipality in Attica; he finally appealed in the same terms to the people at the island of Kalymnos.

The minister urged all people across the country to stay on high alert and observe all safety protocols and restrictions throughout the rest of the festive season in Greece, including on New Year’s Eve and Day, and all the way through to Epiphany Day on January 6.