ATHENS – Although there are signs that the COVID-19 pandemic in Greece may be receding despite high numbers of anti-vaxxers, Health Minister Thanos Plevris said health authorities could impose restrictions again if the Omicron Variant spreads as it is doing in the European Union.
The New Democracy government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has ruled out any more lockdowns as it turns its attention toward an economic recovery and is instead trying to limit where the unvaccinated can go.
There have been mixed messages about whether the pandemic would worsen or lessen and the current figures showed that the fourth wave of the Coronavirus has pulled back some.
The numer of cases and people on ventilators in public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) that were overwhelmed and a study finding many 87 percent of people intubated outside them died shows admissions declining.
Kathimerini said the figures from the National Public Health Organization (EODY) showed a trend that was hopeful although battling the pandemic has been a roller-coaster ride that’s seen reversals after optimism.
Asked about mounting speculation about the possibility of new measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Plevris said, “This is a possibility that always remains on the table.”
But he told SKAI Radio that he doesn’t think it will happen as more people are getting vaccinated, apparently scared into doing so after record numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
He said that 80 percent of adults in Greece have been vaccinated – without reportedly mentioning the actual figure of those fully vaccinated is still little more than 62 percent, below the 70 percent that health officials said was needed to beat back the pandemic.
The government also is trying to persuade even the vaccinated – who are being infected by the unvaccinated as the efficacy of the shots wears off – to get third booster shots.
Mitsotakis backed away from a pledge to consider mandatory shots – only health care workers are required to be vaccinated – and Plevris said that won’t be extended to other sectors apart from those over 60.
They must register an appointment for a first shot by Jan. 16, 2022 or face 100-euro ($112.40) which for pensioners would be deducted from benefits, no word on how those still working would have to pay.
The Panhellenic Medical Association urged everyone to be vaccinated to protect themselves against the Omicron variant but repeated persuasion campaigns have failed to move anti-vaxxers.
They believe that the vaccines aren’t safe or effective or are part of an international conspiracy to alter their DNA and control their minds, many clerics and church officials among them.
The government has launched a digital platform where people can find doctors who perform vaccinations at home as well as opening new centers and using mobile vans in remote areas.
Plevris told MEGA TV that, “Our current approach is that measures should be primarily directed towards the unvaccinated. We are trying to keep to this approach,” he said, although it has continually failed to convince them.