ATHENS – Just as residents and tourists in Greece have been walking away from worry about the Coronavirus pandemic that’s lingering but fading, flu has emerged early on islands in the Cyclades, taken there by travelers from the Southerm Hemisphere.
Flu season in Greece is in the early autumn and shots generally aren’t available until early October, this year coinciding with a recommendation for a fourth COVID-19 booster shot and other variations of vaccines coming out.
The flu has been detected on major islands of the popular chain that includes Mykonos and Santorini and been seen on other destinations including Paros and Ios as tourists are pouring onto the islands.
“In my previous shift, of the 100 cases that came to the emergency room, about 45 had influenza. They had a respiratory infection that was not COVID-19,” an unidentified doctor at the Paros Health Center told Kathimerini.
National Public Health Organization (EODY) Vice-President Giorgos Panagiotakopoulos, told the paper that, “There has been ‘a slight upsurge’ in influenza (compared to) pre-pandemic summers.” He added: “It is not a cause for concern. We are monitoring it.”
University of Athens Vice Rector Athanasios Tsakris, who is Director of the university’s Microbiology Laboratory, said it reminds of the summer of 2009 when a pandemic-like H1N1 flu strain appeared.
He said international travel which has returned at big levels after lockdowns kept people from flying, combined with people who hadn’t caught the flu during COVID and lost immunity, is why it’s showing up early.