ATHENS – As a second wave of COVID-19 is ratcheting up fast, Greece's top infectious diseases expert urged everyone to wear masks and avoid mass gatherings, an appeal from the ruling New Democracy often failing.
Sotiris Tsiodras, a University of Athens professor who heads the government's scientific and medical task force on the Coronavirus, who was lauded for his performance earlier this year during a first lockdown, reached out as cases hit a record 1,259 on Oct. 27, triple the daily average a few weeks earlier.
The government has tried a number of measures to avoid imposing a second lockdown that could undermine any hope of even a slow recovery from the pandemic that has put thousands of businesses on the edge of going under.
The National Organization for Public Health (EODY) said cases had hit 32,752 and the death toll 593 after another 12 people lost their lives to a second wave of the virus, with more people needing to be on ventilators in Intensive Care Units (ICU's.)
“The spread of the Coronavirus is impossible to control,” Tsiodras said in his first televised briefing since August. “Face masks are the only choice we have. We take it off only to eat (when we are with someone else.”
“I want to say, with a clear conscience, that we do not lose hope, we continue to fight as citizens with measures that make our lives easier, that allow social life without the ban (lockdown,) which has huge social consequences,” he said. “We want to avoid a lockdown, with its consequences.”
Tsiodras said that people's "personal choice will play an important role" in how the pandemic develops in the country after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said people should show some responsibility, many young ignoring him.
Despite the fear and the rapid spread of the virus the government still allows night clubs and taverns to be open until midnight although they are the kind of mass gatherings that Tsiodras should people should avoid.
In the same briefing, Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias announced that the regions of Ioannina and Serres will enter into lockdown after a rise in infections after Kozani and Kastoria were closed off.
He also issued a particular warning for the regions of Thessaloniki and Larisa, noting that the situation is "critical,” and as the government hopes that more people will follow health protocols even as police conduct thousands of checks daily looking for individual and business violators, also issuing fines.