ATHENS – Unable to stop COVID-19 cases from rising in a second wave, and the country's health sector under growing pressure, Greece's New Democracy government said it's ready to commandeer private hospitals and use military hospitals too.
Cases are soaring past the mid-300 range daily with the government trying to persuade people to obey health protocols such as wearing masks and keeping safe social distances or face the prospect of a second lockdown.
The Health Ministry said it will reserve facilities and beds at tertiary healthcare centers and military hospitals that will be used exclusively to treat medical staff infected with the novel coronavirus, private hospitals that mostly only take the rich and those who can afford the cost of care there while public hospitals are awash with patients.
The ministry said it could force those hospitals to take patients from public hospitals, as was part of a plan during the first lockdown that didn't happen.
The private hospitals will be paid for providing services to the public health system with money set aside by the government in a special COVID-19 fund, said Kathimerini, which has about 30 million euros ($34.98 million) set aside for that purpose.
Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias and Deputy Finance Minister Theodoros Skylakakis said patients without COVID-19 who need to be in Intensive Care Units (ICU's) could also be taken private clinics and military hospitals so that ICUs at COVID-19-designated hospitals can be exclusively to deal with the Coronavirus cases.