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COVID-19 Overtakes Greek Public Hospital ICU’s, Cases, Deaths Rise

ATHENS – As cases of COVID-19 rise and fall but still linger at alarm levels, Greece is continuing a battle with the stubborn pandemic that’s more than a year-long and preventing the lifting of a lockdown in place 4 ½ months. 

Public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICU’s) were near 100 percent full as the New Democracy government still hasn’t moved, as promised by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, to commandeer more private hospitals.

Some 206 private doctors were conscripted into duty after a call for volunteers from 3,000 in the sector saw only 61 answer, leading to the draft requirement by Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias.

The National Public Health Organization (EODY) said there were 3,062 more cases, bringing the total to 245,405 and 7,649 cases, most coming in the Attica prefecture which is home to the Greek capital and half the country’s population.

There were 699 patients on ventilators in ICU’s and another 467 hospital admissions for COVID-19, further taking up beds in wards and overwhelming staff and causing even some surgeries to be postponed.

Even with reinforcements from the private doctors, physicians in public hospitals said they are struggling to deal with the constant waves of people hit by the Coronavirus, calling the situation dramatic, said Kathimerini.

There were more than 60 critically-ill patients unable to be treated in ICU’s as the government still hasn’t moved to transfer them to private hospitals reserved for the rich and people who can afford private health insurance.

The Union of Public Hospital Workers (POEDIN) said there have been deaths of intubated patients outside ICUs  recorded in several hospitals but didn’t identify them or provide more details, with no confirmation from EODY.

The government moved to accelerate a slow-moving vaccination program by opening two more mega-centers, one in Peristeri in Western Athens and the other at Elliniko on the capital’s coast near the abandoned international airport site.

The Health Ministry said the number of people who’ve received at least one of two required doses had passed the one million mark, far short of the benchmark of 7.49 million needed to get both to slow the pandemic.

That’s expected to pick up sharply in April as more vaccines arrive and with the two new mega-centers starting to operate as of April 1, with those in the 70-74 age group now eligible, along with those with confirmed on Tuesday that the number of people to receive at least one dose of the vaccines had exceeded the one million mark.

Genomic analysis completed by the National Genomic Surveillance Network has identified a total of 2,898 United Kingdom and 56 South African variants of SARS-CoV-2 in the country, the paper said.

The 56 positive strains of the South Africa variant mutations were all domestic: 47 came from the regional unit of Thessaloniki, two from Ioannina, five from Attica, one from Etoloakarnania and one from Iraklio on Crete.

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