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Greece Fears Winter, Flu Season Will Spike COVID-19 Out of Control

Αssociated Press

A couple wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus walk at Ermou Street, Athens main shopping area, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS – Seeing a second wave of COVID-19 resurging already, there is growing anxiety among Greece's scientists and medical specialists that the pandemic could become uncontrollable in the winter as it coincides with flu season.

That's being driven not just by the soaring number of cases that daily top 300 – with fears it could soon become more than 1,000 – but also by more young people being infected over defiance of health protocols and partying, and with more people needing to be put on ventilators, said Kathimerini.

There has been a big uptick in the number of people being put into Intensive Care Units (ICUs) that were beefed up during the pandemic with help from the Diaspora and a few benefactors, absent Greek shipping owners who did almost nothing.

Most of the new cases are in the Attica prefecture that includes the Greek capital, which led to more conditions imposed beginning Sept. 21 for at least two weeks, including extending requirements to wear masks at outdoor public gathering areas such as open air markets known as Laiki.

“We have probably exceeded 100,000 cases in our country, of which at least 10,000-15,000 are active,” Yannis Tountas, Professor of Social and Preventive medicine at Athens University told the newspaper.

Greek health authorities said there wee another 170 cases and seven deaths on Sept. 20, bringing those grim totals to 15,141 with 338 deaths, most among the elderly with underlying or multiple health problem, now spreading to the young.

Newly diagnosed cases rose from 337 in May, when a 10-week lockdown that began in March was gradually lifted, to 5,994 in August. “The evolution of epidemiological data clearly marks a second epidemic wave,” Tountas said.

The National Health System (ESY) sounded the alarm about the rise but Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, applauded for bringing the March lockdown, said he's reluctant to do it again, fearing an economic hit.

The new measures, besides those already in force requiring the wearing of masks in public gathering areas such as supermarkets and stores, means companies will have to let 40 percent of their employees work from home – it wasn't said how that could be done for department stores.

The maximum number of people allowed to be present at indoor and outdoor gatherings is nine people, and 20 at weddings, funerals and christenings with no explanation why the Coronavirus can't spread among even small groups.

Concerts will have to be canceled and cinemas are closed, a further blow to the country's arts sector that has gone largely unsupported, leaving musicians and performers with no income while the government handed out 17.5 billion euros ($20.65 billion) to subsidize workers and businesses during the lockdown.

If the situation gets worse, the government has acknowledged that a second, inclusive lockdown could again be instituted, closing non-essential businesses and likely crushing any hopes of a recovery for a long time coming.