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Alarm Over Greece’s Surging COVID-19, But Vaccinations Not Required

ATHENS – Showing a scattershot approach to combating the COVID-19 pandemic isn't working in Greece, cases keep rising behind the especially contagious Delta Variant but Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hasn't moved toward mandatory vaccinations, except for health care workers.

After a record high 4,608 cases on Aug. 24, there were another 3,273 infections the next day, along with 42 deaths as fatalities keep rising as well as the number of people being put in public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs.)

Health authorities said a fourth wave is almost certainly coming but Mitsotakis said he will wait until later in the autumn to decide whether to make shots mandatory for all, after waiting months to make them compulsory for health workers.

There's also worry, said Kathmerini, that suspensions of health care workers starting Sept. 1 if they refuse to be vaccinated will create a storm of woe if it coincides with more Coronavirus cases and people being hospitalized.

The Director of the ICU unit at the Papanikolaou hospital in Thessaloniki, Nikos Kapravelos, told ANT1 TV that the large increase in cases “is very worrying,” with anti-vaxxers and people defying health measures spreading the virus.

“We have a super-transmissible strain without having built a wall of immunity,” he said, while insisting on the imperative need for “protocols, masks everywhere and indoor gatherings with strict restrictions.”

The government has tried a more moderate approach with a mixture of confusing measures about where the unvaccinated can go while opening doors to the vaccinated but it hasn't worked to persuade doubters to get the shots.

Only 61 percent of the country's population of 10.7 million has been fully vaccinated with two shots of most versions or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson from the United States.

Health authorities said that 70 percent is needed to beat back the pandemic although one member of the government's advisory panel of doctors and scientists said 80-85 is a more realistic number as the pandemic has proved resilient. 

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