Announcing zero deaths from Covid-19 in the 24 hours to Wednesday evening, infectious diseases professor Sotiris Tsiodras said it is “a great relief for us to not be talking about deaths, but about lives being saved instead.”
Speaking at the daily televised briefing, the Health Ministry’s coronavirus spokesman said that the government’s timely preventive and restrictive measures reduced the spread of the virus in the community by a projected 80 pct.
Measures lifted gradually
The infectious diseases specialist expressed the country’s “tremendous success” in the containment of Covid-19, and insisted that “Greece must gradually reopen.” He warned however that the disease “will never be entirely obliterated,” and that restrictive measures would be tailored at local level if an infection outbreak occurred again in some parts of the country.
In about 7 or 15 days health authorities will be able to assess the virus’ dispersal in the community “with great certainty”, and from there continue to assess the situation but on a weekly or biweekly basis. Laboratory testing at regular intervals will also inform decisions concerning the cautious and gradual lifting of measures, he said, pointing out that gradually the early and certain diagnosis and the understanding of the virus’ behavior will improve.
On reopening schools
Tsiodras admitted that the Health Ministry’s task force had been reviewing lifting restrictive measures for schools. Because of the complexity of factors, however, such as infected family members or family members who belong in vulnerable groups, the decision to reopen educational institutions needs further review. He estimated that the contribution of school shutdowns in the overall success of containing the infection amounted to 15-20 pct of all measures.
Regarding mass immunity, he said that “gradually we will all be exposed to the virus. What we have avoided is that we all get sick together,” an experience that other European countries had, stressing their health systems and leading to more deaths.
The professor also announced 7 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Greece in the last 24 hours.
The Covid-19 infections total in Greece stands at 2,408, of whom some 573 were infected abroad or by someone who had been abroad and 1,124 in Greece.
Deaths remain at 121 since the start of the outbreak, of whom 32 were women. Of the 121, a 91 pct had underlying health issues or their average age was over 70 years old. The average age of all the deceased was 74 years of age.
Some 55 patients are being treated in Intensive Care Units. The average age of these patients is 67 years, and 15 of these are women. An 86 pct of ICU patients have underlying health issues or are over 70 years of age.
A total of 31 people have been discharged from ICUs.
Some 56,944 Covid-19 diagnostic tests have been carried out in Greece since the start of the outbreak.
Restrictions in place
The current restrictions will continue to be in effect until April 27, “without that meaning that as of April 28 everything returns to normalcy,” Civil Protection Deputy Minister for Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias said on Wednesday.
During the daily briefing on the coronavirus pandemic and its development in Greece, Hardalias warned that even when restrictions are lifted, it may be necessary in the near future to reintroduce the restrictions, depending on epidemiological findings.
The only change in restrictions is the partial reopening of local courts as of April 27, he noted, as already announced by the Justice Ministry on Tuesday.
Appeal to Kranidi
Speaking after Sotiris Tsiodras, the spokesman of the Health Ministry’s task force on the novel coronavirus, Hardalias also appealed to the public in the area of Kranidi, Argolid, to stay home. The town was placed on a 14-day curfew after 150 cases of coronavirus infections were identified at a local hotel housing some 470 refugees. (The hotel has been in lockdown since April 16.)
An additional 177 samples have been collected from possible traced contacts in the area, and are being processed, the minister noted.
Meanwhile, a door-to-door sample taking took place in the Roma community of Nea Smyrni in the Larissa, central Greece, which was placed on lockdown when a sick child’s case led to a series of coronavirus-positive confirmations. Twenty people are being cared for in a Reception Medical Facility of Larissa, and samples retaken on Wednesday for an update of their progress.
Thessaly Regional Director Kostas Agorastos said that with the help of Hardalias and Tsiodras a safety protocol has been applied that takes particular care of vulnerable groups of the population in general, and that antibodies tests (Elisa IgG) are being conducted.
The Reception Medical Center, he said, was created on fast track to house carriers of the virus with mild or no symptoms.