ATHENS – Private doctors in Greece who have again refused to help the overwhelmed National Health System (ESY) cope with record-busting cases of COVID-19 will now be conscripted, the New Democracy government said.
That also happened in 2020 when the pandemic was roaring but the doctors said they wanted no part of trying to help public hospital doctors and the government was reluctant to engage profit-making private clinics use their Intensive Care Units.
The move to force doctors to take part came as cases pushed back 8,000 daily and 80 deaths along with growing hospitalizations and overflowing ICU’s that have led hospitals to put critical care patients in hallways and other makeshift settings.
The conscription of the doctors will start in hard-hit northern Greece which has been a symbol of defiance against health measures and resistance against being vaccinated, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis backing away from a pledge to make shots mandatory if the pandemic worsened.
Only some 40 private doctors had volunteered as of Nov. 16 through their medical associations, said Kathimerini, which forced the government’s hand to draft into action others who didn’t want to be involved.
The Health Ministry estimated that more than 100 doctors in specific specialties such as anesthesiologists, pulmonologists, physicians, general practitioners and cardiologists are needed to support ESY.
Government sources not named told the paper that despite the deteriorating situation there won’t be any more health restrictions coming as Mitsotakis has focused on an economic recovery and the critical Christmas shopping season looms.
Tighter measures had been imposed on the country’s rabid and sometimes violent anti-vaxxers who don’t believe the vaccines that have worked to slow the pandemic are safe or effective, or are part of an international conspiracy to alter their DNA or control their minds.
They have to show negative rapid or molecular PCR tests proving they aren’t infected if they want to go into public gathering spots such as retail stores and restaurants but not pharmacies, sports stadia, supermarkets or churches which are exempt, allowing mixed crowds, including those possibly contaminated.
This means that restrictions will remain on access to indoor entertainment and other venues for those who do not have a certificate of vaccination, negative test or proof of recovery from the resurging virus.
Deputy Health Minister Mina Gaga, a physician, said however that the government’s advisory panel of doctors and scientists – whose recommendations for health measures were set aside – will be consulted again.
“We monitor cases every day… Whether we will take more action is something we need to discuss with the Infectious Diseases Committee. At the moment, however, there are no more measures on the table,” she also said.
Her advice: stay away from other people.