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Athens Waste Samples Show COVID-19 Cases High During Lockdown

Αssociated Press

Pedestrians wearing face masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus walk in central Athens, on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS - The proof is in the waste and analyses of wastewater in Greece’s capital has shown that the Coronavirus level isn’t going down although the effects of a third tighter lockdown haven’t been assessed.

Nikos Thomaidis, Professor of analytical Chemistry at Athens University, said the viral load shows no significant difference from its levels over the previous three weeks leading up to Feb. 21 and that it remains “heavy and very high.”

“We are still waiting to see the effect of (extra lockdown measures) in limiting transmission (of the virus],)” Thomaidis told TV channel Mega.

Professor Theodoros Vassilakopoulos, a lung specialist, told SKAI TV that at least the death rate is declining, which he attributed to a vaccination program even though it’s far behind scheduled but has begun to protect the elderly.

“With almost 1,500 new infections, we have 25 deaths (daily,)” he said. “In November, with double the number of infections, we had 100,” he said, the New Democracy government’s advisory panel of doctors and scientists regularly checking epidemiological data.

By Easter (May 2), the largest part of the vulnerable population – the elderly and the seriously ill from other causes – will have received attleast the first vaccination dose, he said.

But two are required either three weeks or three months apart depending on which version is given and so far only a little more than 40,000 people in a country of 10.7 million have gotten both.

Vassilakopoulos said there should be a drop in cases in the coming few weeks between the lockdown containing people more and winter weather keeping them in but that hospital admissions will keep going up because of a lag between infection and symptoms.

But he said health measures will need to stay in place, especially wearing masks - some experts recommend double-making - and that their use will remain until “herd immunity” is achieved, likely not until deep into autumn - as flu season starts and viruses can spread again, bringing renewed fears.