ATHENS – As hundreds of wildfires have taken Greece's attention, August could see further COVID-19 measures put in place to try to stem a pandemic unchecked, largely because of the number of unvaccinated people.
Only half the country's population of 10.7 million has been fully protected, far less than the 70 percent benchmark that health officials said is needed to beat back the Coronavirus and try to bring some sense of normality again.
The vaccination program dubbed Eleftheria (Freedom) has stalled as a hard-core element of anti-vaxxer resisters remain, vocal in their defiance and believe the vaccines aren't safe or effective or an international conspiracy to alter their DNA and control their bodies and minds. They haven't said why.
The government's advisory panel of doctors, scientists and epidemiological experts is constantly reviewing data about caseloads, including in human waste, to try to track the scale and spread, especially of the now-dominant Delta Variant.
Cases that had averaged around 300 a day earlier in the summer have exploded to around 2,650 now, and had been over 3,000 as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hasn't made shots mandatory except for health care workers.
Officials are looking at the Aug. 15 holiday week when peak travel is expected as people flee to their villages and summer homes and islands, which could further spread the Coronavirus and determine if more measures will be needed.
Charalambos Gogos, Professor of pathology of the University of Patra and a member of the Health Ministry’s committee of experts, told Kathimerini that estimates of a non-exponential increase are “based on the fact that the spread of the coronavirus at this stage remains in the 25-35 age group, that older people are vaccinated to a relatively large extent, and that the National Health System now has experience in managing the pandemic.”
He said the Aug. 15 holiday period could be problematic and urged people to follow health measures such as wearing masks and staying safe social distances which many have been ignoring for some time.
People were also advised on their return to limit their contacts for one week and to do at least two self-diagnostic tests, on the second and fifth day after they come back to check if they had been infected.