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"Terrifying” Delta Variant Spreads Over Greece, the Unvaccinated

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People wearing face masks, wait in queues outside Peristeri vaccination center in Athens, Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Sotiris Dimitropoulos)

ATHENS – The more than half of Greece's population that won't get vaccinated against COVID-19 are putting themselves at risk from the Delta Variant that's spreading at a “terrifying” rate, the head of the National Organization for Public Health (EODY) said.

“We will have an increase in cases this week and next, but we must look at the age (of those infected) and whether they end up in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) to be intubated, or we have deaths,” Panagiotis Arkoumaneas told SKAI TV.

He said that 99% of those who end up in hospital or in intensive care have not been vaccinated. This is “a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” he added, referring to those who refuse to be inoculated, doubting the safety or efficacy of the vaccine or believing it's a conspiracy to alter their DNA.

The Delta Variant from India makes up half of the surging number of cases that daily are at or over 3,000, some 10 times more than just a few weeks earlier, spreading because of the number of unvaccinated and defiance of what's left of health restrictions in what was already a lenient lockdown largely ignored.

Delta is spreading so fast that it will weekly jump by 10 percent in the number of cases, he said.

“It will soon reach 70%, we now see it on the islands, especially the islands that are seeing a rise in infections,” he explained.

Tourists and visitors to islands must be vaccinated, have a negative PCR test or proof they've recovered from the Coronavirus but tourism workers don't have to be vaccinated and the New Democracy government didn't, as promised, make islands oases free from the virus.

Also speaking to SKAI, pathologist and infectious disease expert Marios Lazanas said the timing of the fourth wave of the pandemic surprised experts.

“To be honest, we expected it, but we did not expect it so quickly. That is, we thought that this tsunami would come at the end of August, but it came much faster,” he said.

Delta is much more contagious and the lagging vaccination rate is cutting into hopes of a faster economic recovery and even brought talk of more restrictive measures being imposed again as the government goes back and forth with measures being tough or lenient.

“Vaccinations have been greatly reduced. People have gone on holiday and there is a problem, said Lazanas, the government going so far as to give the young cards worth 150 euros ($176.95) if they get vaccinated.

In very rare cases, even the vaccinated can contract COVID-19, as happened with three doctors of cardiothoracic surgery clinic at the University General Hospital in Rio, western Greece, who tested positive, local media reported.

According to the reports on patrastimes.gr, the doctors are fully vaccinated and have so far been asymptomatic. But a patient who had been scheduled for surgery was transported to a hospital in Athens.

The National Organization for Public Health (EODY) has started contact tracing at the hospital and disinfected the building where doctors and health workers daily can come into contact with COVID patients and the government now requiring them to be vaccinated after many have refused to get it.