ATHENS - The novel coronavirus could become endemic, said the Health Ministry's coronavirus spokesman and infectious diseases professor Sotiris Tsiodras on Thursday evening, after citing a recent World Health Organization estimate that the virus will continue to exist for a long time.
Speaking during the live thrice-weekly coronavirus briefing, he added that even though Greece did prevent a wild spread of the virus, it is not eradicated and will continue to disperse even after the discovery of a successful vaccine.
He said that although Greece experienced the coronavirus pandemic mostly mildly, there are questions on acquired immunity in the population. The percentage of the population that has become infected is estimated to be "very low, perhaps less than 0.05 pct of the total population." For this reason, four separate studies are ongoing to glean statistical data on the coronavirus' dispersion in the general population.
First is a prospective population study examining the percentage of people who recovered and developed antibodies; secondly, a seroepidemiological study among 10,000 healthy blood donors aged 18 to 65; thirdly, a repeated study of residual serums which began in early March with a collection of 5,000 samples that will be analyzed next week; and, finally, another population study for the virus' dispersal which will start next week in Crete, he added.
On measures concerning the potential safe travelling of tourists, he said that any discussion about accurate lab-level testing prior to flying out to a tourist destination is a "difficult task," and he explained how this "is a virus which you can test a day or two before you travel but actually be incubating it while you travel."
The professor also announced another 10 new coronavirus cases were officially recorded in Greece in the last 24 hours, and one person died, bringing the total of infections since the start of the outbreak in the country to 2,770.
So far, of the total infections, 610 are traced to travel abroad and 1,409 to known cases in Greece.
Twenty-four hospitalized Greeks are intubated. Their average age is 71 years old and 10 of them are women. Nearly all (96 pct) have an underlying illness or are over 70 years of age. Another 90 have been discharged from ICUs since the start of the outbreak.
Fatalities since the beginning of the outbreak total 156, of whom 41 were women. The average age of the deceased was 75 years and 93.6 pct had some underlying illness and/or were 70 years of age or more.
A total of 116,233 diagnostic tests for Covid-19 have so far been carried out in Greece.