ATHENS – Already extended once because it wasn’t working well enough, a third lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 around Greece’s capital in Greece seems likely to be pushed back to at least March 15.
The panel of doctors and scientists advising Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his New Democracy government said epidemiological data shows the need for keeping health measures in place.
Those haven’t reduced the number of cases fast enough with people using a permissible mission of going out for exercise even outside their neighborhoods to be out and about and gather in public places.
Charalambos Gogos, Professor of Medicine at the University of Patras, and member of the government’s COVID-19 Committee of Experts, told SKAI TV he favored the extension in the Attica prefecture which includes Athens.
He said that’s because there’s a big viral load which is putting pressure on a beleaguered health care system with public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICU’s) filling fast and the government not moving to use private hospitals.
“This is the worst possible combination at the moment in Attica,” he said, noting that the first 15 days of March is crucial to trying to slow the pandemic, now past the one year point.
He blamed the public for not following the health measures although there’s been no reports of police enforcement and it’s rare to see people stopped to see if they have permission on their cell phones or forms to be out.
Another test will be the meat-eating celebration of Tsiknopempti on March 4 this year, which marks 11 days before the beginning of the Greek Orthodox Lent period leading up to Easter.
Families typically gather for barbeques to eat meat before they aren’t supposed to during Lent, widely ignored even in a devout country, but he said they should not do so this year beyond their own family members.
Environmental engineering professor Dimosthenis Sarigiannis told ANT1 TV the case loads aren’t falling because people aren’t obeying the health measures that allegedly were tighter than a lenient second lockdown.
The efficiency of the existing measures compared to March 2020 when a real lockdown was imposed is only 45 percent, he said, adding that variants of the Coronavirus are an additional risk.
Health authorities announced 1,269 new coronavirus cases along with 36 deaths for the 24-hour period ending at 3 p.m. on Feb. 28, the day when the third quasi-lockdown was supposed to end before pushed back to March 8 and due to do so again, and perhaps again again or even again.