ATHENS – With Greece’s vaccination program lagging behind schedule, there were 3,133 COVID-19 cases on March 27, along with 72 deaths and 728 people on ventilators in overwhelmed public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICU’s.)
That brought the total cases in the more than year-long pandemic to 252,590 with 7,826 dead, still jumping during a third lockdown that was eased, tightened and now is easing again.
Despite that, Prime Minister Kyriakis Mitsotakis, eager to get the economy going as non-essential businesses have been shut for almost five months, still hasn’t moved to commandeer private hospitals as he vowed.
The government has conscripted 206 private doctors to work in public hospitals but there are so many critically ill cases that people needing intensive care are being put outside ICU’s although it wasn’t said if that includes hallways as happens in Greece.
After scores of politicians and some of their wives had priority in getting vaccinated, even ahead of many front line workers, the program has been slowly accelerated by little more than one million of the country’s population of 10.7 million has gotten one of two required shots.
Health officials said at least 7.49 million, or 70 percent of the population, must be fully inoculated to slow the pandemic even as the government said it will open to tourism on May 15.
Four months after the vaccinations began, Mitsotakis said that those under 60 years old and those younger with serious underlying diseases will be eligible for at least one of the two shots by the start of May, if they’ll take it.
Mitsotakis, visiting the new vaccination “mega-facility” in Athens’ western suburb of Peristeri, added that, by the end of March, at least 1.7 million vaccine doses will have been administered, said the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA-MPA.)
“The (National Health System) has held, is holding and will continue to hold” under the pressure of still high viral transmission rates, Mitsotakis said, praising the doctors and nurses work.
But doctors said the government has not done enough to add to staff or provided enough resources to keep people on ventilators from being cared for outside ICU’s, blaming him directly.
But he said it’s up the European Union to get more vaccines, the bloc’s leaders accused of utterly failing to do so in bureaucratic process that requires unanimous consensus from all 27 countries before doing anything.