Health Min. Kikilias in Thessaloniki: No cause for panic over COVID-19

The woman who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) “is hospitalized at a negative pressure room in AHEPA hospital and the people she came in contact with these past two days are being tracked down,” Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said on Wednesday in Thessaloniki.

Kikilias had just concluded a meeting with West Macedonia Regional Director Apostolos Tzitzikostas and other officials on the first case of coronavirus to be identified in Greece, hospitalized in the Thessaloniki hospital.

Adding that “the airplane cabin crew and the patient’s fellow travellers are being tracked down,” the minister called for calmness and awareness of the symptoms, consulting their pathologist, and following announcements by the National Public Health Organization, regional administrations and hospitals designated as treatment centers for coronavirus specifically.

“There is absolutely no cause for panic,” he stressed, “on the contrary, proper informatoin, organization and collaboration will help us all collective have better results.” He also warned the public to listen for advice only to specialists such as doctors and medical professors “who know best of all what it’s all about.”

Kikilias said “this virus resembles the influenza virus” and said that “most cases will not present clinical symptoms.”

Tzitzikostas said that the region will be ready to assist the Ministry of Health and other agencies as necessary, and said “the only thing needed right now is calmness.”

Civil Protection Secretary General Nikos Hardalias highlighted the fact that the collaborative efforts with the Ministry of Health have been ongoing for weeks. “What we need is calmness and self-discipline; that means that anyone feeling unwell or anything they are concerned about should speak with their own doctor or call the telephone lines publicized by the Ministry of Health and follow directions explicitly.”

Earlier in the day, Greece’s first confirmed COVID-19 case, a 38-year-old woman at AHEPA hospital, was reported to be in stable condition on Wednesday.

“The patient is a Greek woman aged 38 who had travelled to northern Italy,” the health ministry’s spokesperson Dimitris Tsiodras, an infectious diseases specialist, said in a press briefing. “She is well and is being treated by a group of excellent doctors in Thessaloniki, while an effort is now underway to track down those that she came into contact with and those that were in close contact will be voluntarily isolated and their health will be monitored,” Tsiodras said.

He said that the disease is still relatively mild in the majority of cases and stressed that everyone must follow the rules of hygiene concerning regular hand washing and how to behave when coughing.

Contacts of hospitalized woman tracked, alerted

The Health Ministry said on an update on Wednesday evening that it had identified the passengers of the airplane used by a woman currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the AHEPA hospital of Thessaloniki.
Based on an algorithm, it said, it had located passengers sitting in the immediate vicinity of the 38-year-old woman, as well as relatives and others who had been in her proximity. They have been alerted to the symptoms of the virus and asked to contact health services immediately so they may be quarantined; they must also avoid social contacts or travel, the ministry said.
The woman arrived from Italy and is the first case of coronavirus in Greece.