ATHENS – Intermittent health measures and lockdowns that vary in their toughness have proven unable to contain COVID-19 in Greece, medical advisors now anxious over another rebound in cases, especially around the capital.
Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis had imposed a second lockdown Nov. 7, 2020 that was far less restrictive than a first earlier this year and it has been eased to let businesses reopen with conditions.
That was done to restart a staggered economy but ironically could do even more damage, his scientific team said, if the sudden surge keeps up and requires a tougher lockdown or brings a third wave of the Coronavirus.
In the prefecture of Attica, which includes Athens, there were 409 more cases on Jan. 28, including 104 in the center of the city, which includes popular shopping areas to which people flocked, not keeping safe social distances.
More people have also been shunning masks or wearing them under their nose or on their chins with no reports on whether once-frequent inspections by police were still ongoing.
Charalambos Gogos, Professor of Medicine at the University of Patras, and member of the government’s medical panel, told Mega channel the mini-spike was in more densely populated areas.
It said while it was expected because of the reopening of businesses and more people moving around and mingling that it’s serious enough to cause concern about where it might lead and that high schools in hard-hit areas won’t reopen.
Pulmonology Professor and Vice-President of the Greek Pulmonary Society, Nikos Tzanakis said there are 30,000-50,000 active cases across the country, and that cases could return to dangerous levels.
Professor Dimosthenis Sarigiannis of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University told ANT1 channel the increase come faster than expected, days after the second lockdown was eased.
While cases had fallen to under 400 a day around the country he said they could again surpass 1,000 if health measures aren’t followed, which could spell the end for some businesses already on the brink of going under if they are forced to shut again.
The scenario has caused a dilemma for Mitsotakis who is trying to balance saving lives and keep the economy going, which could prove almost impossible to do at the same time.
A vaunted vaccination program that was supposed to bring millions of doses to the country has seen far less delivered and at last report fewer than 8,000 people getting the required two shots three weeks apart.
Health experts said some 70 percent of the country, or about 7.35 million people, need to be inoculated to slow the pandemic that's been going on for a year and shows no signs of ending as governments alternate lockdowns with leniency, which hasn't worked.