ATHENS – Although government officials said there wasn't cause for alarm and that Greek hospital Intensive Care Units (ICU's) were handling a second wave of COVID-19, the pandemic is putting pressure on the ability to deal with growing numbers of people needing to be put on ventilators.
The soaring number of cases, along with a spike in deaths, is causing renewed worry, said Kathimerini, at the same time health authorities said the system has been able to cope although ICU's are close to maximum capacity.
The New Democracy government had doubled the number of ICU beds during the seven-month pandemic with the help of the Diaspora and some philanthropists, absent Greek shipping oligarchs who have done little to help while building their world-dominating fleet.
The resistant Coroanvirus has settled over the country as flu season is about to hit, that illness having proved deadly in recent years, which could put additional strain on hospitals and health resources.
Some two-thirds of ICU beds in hospitals in the Greek capital set aside specifically for COVID-19 cases are already occupied and the number of cases is now surpassing 500 almost daily.
As of Oct. 14, of the 205 non-COVID-19 ICU beds at Attica hospitals, 183, or 89.3 percent, were taken, while for COVID-19 patients it was 66.3 percent, with 81 of 122 beds occupied, the paper said.
Doctors are also said to be especially anxious that the National Health Service that was decimated for a decade by austerity-driven budget cuts during an economic crisis, won't be able to manage if infections jump sharply.
Matina Pagoni, the head of the union of Athens and Piraeus hospital doctors who heads a clinic at the capital’s Gennimata hospital, said eight of 10 ICU beds set aside there for COVID-19 cases were taken up to now.
Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias visited Kozani, in northern Greece, the first region to go under lockdown during the second wave of the pandemic, to check the situation.
He said he was fearful for Kastoria, Thessaloniki and Ioannina, where there have been clusters of infections, saying Ioannina is “on a razor’s edge,” adding that authorities are “very concerned” about Thessaloniki, the country's second-largest city and major port.
“The situation is critical for the whole country,” Hardalias said, appealing to people to obey measures to wear masks and stay a safe social distance of at least 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) away from each other, which many haven't been doing.