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Papaevangelou: Pandemic Very Persistent Despite 3 Weeks of Nationwide Lockdown

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Infectious diseases doctor Vana Papaevangelou. (Photo by Eurokinissi)

ATHENS -- The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Greece is very persistent, observed Professor Vana Papaevangelou at Friday's live briefing on the latest news concerning the virus' dispersal in the country.

Despite the fact that the number of new infections in Greece is dropping, the epidemiological curve itself is still high, she added. However, according to the latest data released by the European Center for Disease Prevention & Control (ECDC), Greece stands in the 17th place for new infections in Europe and in the 16th place for its mortality rate; these figures are quite low compared to other European countries, she pointed out.

The number of new infections registered on Friday in Thessaloniki (545), in Attica (519) and in Larisa (106) are very high, while the 93 new cases in Serres and the 80 in Magnesia are also alarming, she noted.

The daily average of new coronavirus infections nationwide stands at approximately 2,000 so far this week, said the professor, while in some regions new cases are rising, despite the fact that Greece is currently in its third week of the general lockdown.

The median age of new infections has gone up slightly to 48 years, and the number of people over the age of 65 who were infected this week went up too, she added. This means that the national health system will remain under pressure throughout next week, by the continuing demands of hospitalizations and treatment, she underlined.

She also estimated that there are currently some 25,000 active coronavirus cases in Greece.

Fresh hospitalizations seem to be stabilizing, with some 4,500 patients currently treated for the virus in the country's hospitals; a quarter of these are being treated at Thessaloniki's hospitals. Even so, the numbers of people needing to come into hospitals and be kept in for treatment should begin to fall as of next week, she said.

Intensive care unit beds in northern Greece are nearly all occupied, while an 88 pct of these across the country are occupied too. It is estimated that some 1,600 patients will need to be hospitalized over the next two weeks, of whom 250 will almost certainly require ICU treatment. "Fatalities are still on the rise, with an average of 85 deaths per day," she noted.

According to a preventative action model released by the European Center for Disease Prevention & Control (ECDC), the hasty lifting of current restrictive measures will result in a sharp rise of infections, hospitalizations, and fatalities, stressed Papaevnagelou. But if measures are lifted when the virus is dispersing in the community at an even lower rate, then new infections will rise at a much slower pace.