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Greece Orders Private Doctors to Cover Hospital Shortages

ATHENS — Greece’s government on Friday issued a civil mobilization order that will oblige some doctors in the private sector to support the state health service during a surge in COVID-19 infections driven by the omicron variant.

The emergency order will take effect next Wednesday, affecting doctors specialized in pathology, pulmonology and anesthesiology in four regions in northern Greece where state hospitals are suffering acute staffing shortages.

The omicron variant has been blamed by experts for a huge increase in infections ‒ which are up eight-fold since mid-December ‒ over the past 10 days which have hit record levels. The surge has not led to a significant increase in intensive care unit admissions but has pushed up daily general hospitalizations, adding pressure on the public health service, with many hospitals also struggling with staff coverage as more doctors and nurses get infected.

Civil mobilization orders are used to keep essential services running, and have been introduced in the past to counter strikes. The current order will require doctors to work for the state for 15 days.

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