ATHENS – People who test positive to the coronavirus after a rapid test do not need to follow it up with a PCR (molecular) one, unless they are unvaccinated and want a certificate they have contracted the virus, Alternate Health Ministry Mina Gaga said on Thursday.
“Because there are many infections right now and it is a hassle, it is best to stay home after a [positive] rapid test,” Gaga noted during a regular briefing, referring to long waiting lines for rapid tests. She noted that the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant is sweeping through Greece, and all control tests for the virus show that over 60% of recent cases are of this variant. She reiterated that wearing masks will help contain it as well as avoiding people would be if there are any symptoms.
“Only those who are unvaccinated and have contracted the virus for the first time and wish to get an illness certificate must confirm the positive rapid test with a PCR, which would be meaningless for fully vaccinated people,” Childhood Infectious Diseases professor and health committee member Vana Papaevangelou explained. Papaevangelou also said that whoever exhibits the clinical symptoms of a common cold should stay home.
Although the rolling average of the last 7 days was nearly 9,000 new infections per day, over 53,000 people have been infected by today, she said. “We have never seen such a steep hike of infections,” which concern mainly younger people aged 18-34, she explained. This has lowered the median age of infections to 29 years of age. Mostly affected are the ares of Athens and Thessaloniki, she added.
Papaevangelou said that the common symptoms of Omicron are nasal catarrh, headache, fatigue, sneezing, a sore throat, and more rarely loss of smell and taste, coughing, and high fever. Papaevangelou also added Greece is awaiting to see if the pandemic wave exhibits a lot of infections but fewer hospitalizations, as in Britain.
In terms of unvaccinated people, she said that there are nearly 380,000 people aged 60-plus who have not been vaccinated at all, while another 100,000 have not been vaccinated with a booster shot. But of the latter, she said, 6 in 10 have scheduled an appointment for one.
The government has pushed for the vaccination of people aged 60 with fines in addition to the existing restrictions (no entry in museums, theaters and indoor restaurants, for example). Those over 60 who have not received a first shot or set an appointment by January 16 will face a fine of 50 euros the first month and 100 euros per month thereafter, authorities said earlier in the month, in an effort to reduce congestion in ICUs.