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Tsiodras: "COVID Is Spreading at Very High Speeds in Recent Days"

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Prof. Sotiris Tsiodras. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Dimitris Papamitsos)

ATHENS -- Presenting the epidemiological data that prompted a decision for a full nationwide lockdown in Greece from Saturday morning, epidemiology expert Prof. Sotiris Tsiodras on Thursday emphasised the sharp uptick in the rates of transmission seen in the last few days.

"The virus is moving a very high speeds, with a very significant transmission in recent days," he said.

Tsiodras presented a series of charts, with the prime minister explaining that this was the presentation also made to him three times a week. He pointed to the curve for the spread of the virus and also gave a breakdown of spread per age group, which showed that the virus was spreading aggressively among the most vulnerable age groups.

Tsiodras noted that more than 1,000 people over 65 years old, when the virus presents the highest danger, were identified as confirmed cases in the last seven days. "This, in itself, is definitive," he said, noting that based on the Greek data it was possible to mathematically estimate the risk that a patient will need to be admitted to hospital or even an ICU if they have Covid-19, with this possibility for men over 75 being significantly high.

He said that the number of tests carried out had increased 20-fold since September 10, and that these had shown an increase of positive test results exceeding 9 pct. If one also took into account the aggressiveness of the virus in Greece, this effectively meant that one in 10 people with symptoms at this time were infected with coronavirus, he explained.

The professor warned that this would put unbearable pressure on the healthcare system in the coming days, and that hospital admissions will not be confined to the elderly.

"Never before in recent history have we had so many hospital patients, approximately 1,600 last night, from a virus that causes pneumonia. Never before in recent history, neither here nor in the rest of Europe," he emphasised, noting that the average rate of new hospital admissions in the last seven days exceeds 170 a day.

Tsiodras also pointed to an increased gap between admissions and discharges, with more people admitted than discharged, and said that with rates of infection at this level, there would be increased admissions among younger age groups.

"We will see admissions of people aged 45-54, 93 people in this category in recent days. Correspondingly, in the ages 35-44, [there are] 50 people in this category in recent days. And there will, of course, be admissions that will lead to serious outcomes, to admissions to ICUs and even deaths at younger ages," he added.

He pointed to a spike in admissions to ICUs since October 26, which had risen to 213 on Wednesday night, representing 60 pct of ICUs set aside for Covid-19 cases in the country, while in Thessaloniki the occupancy rate was 78 pct. He also reported 191 patients on ventilators, indicating a significant increase in the patients that were very seriously ill.

Of these, he added there were 27 people aged 55-64 and 18 people aged 45-54 in an ICU, with men more seriously affected.