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Greece’s First Case of COVID-19 Omicron Variant Found on Crete

ΑΤΗΕΝS – The first case of the especially contagious Omicron Variant of Delta-19 was identified on Crete as the New Democracy government was mulling other ways to slow the surging pandemic.

Health Minister Thanos Plevris said the infection was confirmed in Chania in a Greek citizen who returned from a trip to South Africa, bringing more worry as Greece mandated shots as of Jan. 16, 2022 for all those 60 and over, who would be fined 100 euros ($113.32) for refusing.

Theoklis Zaoutis, the head of the National Organization for Public Health (EODY), said the man flew into Crete on Nov. 26 and took a rapid antigen test at the airport which turned up negative.

A second test the next day, after he developed mild symptoms of COVID-19, again received a negative result until a third on Nov. 29 confirmed the infection that health officials said was Omicron.

Zaoutis stated that the man remains in quarantine and his contacts have tested negative but it was a bad turn in the fight against the Coronavirus as the number of people on ventilators in public hospital Intensive Care Units rose and the government didn’t move to recruit private clinics.

Read more: Greek Health Min Gives Briefing on New COVID Measures

Most of the cases are unvaccinated but people refusing to get shots are spreading the virus, the elderly especially susceptible and a sector where many have been reluctant to be inoculated.

The unvaccinated who recovered from COVID will now be required to have a molecular PCR test, which costs up to 60 euros ($68,) in order to get into recreation and entertainment areas, otherwise open to the vaccinated.

With up to 40 percent of cases among the vaccinated as the efficacy of shots taken six months earlier or longer has worn off, there’s a campaign for booster shots in place and the rising cases have driven some skeptics to get the shots, but not enough.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who backed away from a pledge to consider making shots mandatory said he asked the National Vaccination Committee to consider shortening the time from six to four months before people can get a booster.

“I insist on (using) the adjective ‘necessary’ because I consider it stronger than the word obligatory,” he told Parliament during a debate, adding that vaccination will limit the danger posed to those around them, the paper said.

Parliament Approves Mandatory Vaccination against COVID-19 for People Aged over 60

The bill relating to the National Central Authority for Health Procurement (EKAPY), and which also includes mandatory vaccination against Covid-19 for all adults aged over 60, was approved at a plenary session on Wednesday evening.

It was favored in principle by New Democracy party, and it was rejected in principle by all opposition parties.

The clause concerning the obligatory inoculation of people over the age of 60 was favored by Movement for Change (KINAL), apart from New Democracy. This was rejected by SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance, the Communist Party of Greece, Greek Solution and MeRA25.

The clause about additional financial support to vulnerable pensioners in the year 2021, and the increase in welfare cash benefits for people with special needs and uninsured elderly people for the month of December 2021 was favored by New Democracy, SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance, Movement for Change (KINAL) and MeRA25. The Communist Party of Greece and Greek Solution voted ‘present’ on this clause.

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