Wavering Health Measures Don't Slow COVID-19 Surge in Greece

Αssociated Press

People sit at a restaurant in the Plaka district of Athens on Friday July 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – Off-again, On-again COVID-19 health measures in Greece that were loosened and then tightened after cases hit near-record levels aren't working to beat back the pandemic even as the New Democracy government has been reluctant to make vaccinations mandatory.

There were 3,565 cases on July 20, the highest mark in three months, with islands where supposedly only visitors who are vaccinated or free of the Coronavirus were permitted to go being the most troublesome.

But Prime Minister Kyriakos' government hasn't required tourism workers – only tourists – to be vaccinated despite signs that the islands that were supposed to be oases of immunity are near to being overrun again.

The overall number of confirmed infections stood at 463,473, said Kathimerini, also reporting that the results of laboratory tests by the National Network of Sewage Epidemiology showed COVID spiking in Attica – home to Athens – as well as Thessaloniki, the country's second-largest city where it jumped 260 percent in a week, and 219 percent in the capital.

With almost half the country's population of 10.7 million fully vaccinated – 70 percent is the benchmark to work against the pandemic – the number of deaths has, however fallen but the numbers on ventilators in public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) is worrying health officials.

Although it has failed, the government is still trying to convince, persuade, cajole and urge people to get vaccinated in the face of a rabid anti-vaxxer movement that believes the vaccines are conspiracies to alter their DNA or aren't safe or effective although science has shown they are.

Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias visiting a Roma camp in the Kliafa area of Spata, Eastern Attica to try to convince residents there to be vaccinated, the paper said.

“I spoke with youngsters, with their families, and with a great sense of duty, love and respect, we want to convince as many of our fellow citizens as possible about the beneficial effects of vaccination,” he said, with no sign it's working yet.