ATHENS – Greece may have reacted too late again to tighten COVID-19 restrictions, so many people ignoring health measures or getting around them that deaths could hit 100 a day and cases surpass 3,000.
That was the assessment of a virology expert, Dr. George Pavlakis, who told SKAI TV that if people keep flouting health safety measures that the Attica prefecture that includes the capital Athens is “still at risk of collapse.”
“Many people say that the measures are unfair and unreasonable, but it is hard to find ideal solutions; you need simple rules and simple measures. When you’re at war, the rules need to be simple and must be applied by everyone,” said Pavlakis, Senior Investigator at the Human Retrovirus Section of the American Center for Cancer Research of the National Cancer Institute.
“Ideally, we should shut everything down completely for two or three weeks,” he added, a step that Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis hasn’t wanted to take, trying to find ways to partially open the economy while still saving lives, which hasn’t worked for either.
“For a year now, Greece has avoided the kind of massive tsunami that his Bergamo,” he said in reference to the Italian city had thousands of victims daily from the Coronavirus early in 2020 when the pandemic struck.
“I hope it manages to avoid it completely, because we’re in the final stretch now,” he said as the government hopes a slow-rolling vaccination campaign will begin to show signs of making a difference.
Pavlakis said Greece is doing better than earlier in the pandemic although Mitsotakis last year was lauded for bringing a tough early lockdown and since them has waffled on how to handle it.
“We have averted disaster, something that is very important, and now we have the vaccines and spring on the way,” he said, the virus spreading less in warmer weather than during the winter.
But he said because of a lag factor between contracting and spreading COVID-19, and with so many people having been out – including massive protest crowds backing terrorist killer Dimitris Koufodinas’ hunger strike in demand for a prison transfer – that cases will jump soon and for a while.
He said he expects new infections to continue rising over the next couple of weeks, with a possible de-escalation of cases starting the week after then, “if measures are applied,” throughout Greece but in Attica in particular.
“I am hoping that we will see the peak towards the middle of next week. I cannot make any projections if we don’t see the peak of the wave,” Pavlakis said of what could be a coming storm of trouble.
It’s not just the number of cases but those in critical condition who need to be put on ventilators in public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICU’s) that is a particular worry as beds are nearing 100 percent capacity.
The pressure is rising, Panhellenic Federation of Public Hospital Employees (POEDIN) President Michalis Giannakos saying that the hospitals in Attica “are at war, without preparation,” although having a year to beef up.
POEDIN said that Covid ICUs were full at the KAT, Sismanogleio, Agia Olga, Gennimatas, Red Cross, Elpis, NIMTS, Evangelismos, Thriasio and Asklipieio hospitals despite the country doubling the numbers since the pandemic began.