ATHENS – A third more restrictive lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Greece will likely be pushed back beyond Feb. 28 after the number of critical cases rose, seeing Intensive Care Units (ICU’s) filling.
The facilities are in public hospitals with the New Democracy government making no moves to use private hospitals although the ICU units were at 85 percent capacity despite being beefed up during the year-long pandemic.
The new shutdown of non-essential businesses began Feb. 11 with tougher measures and showed signs of working but cases began jumping again, being reviewed by the government’s advisory panel of doctors and scientists.
The committee will likely recommend extending the lockdown until at least mid-March to provide more time to assess epidemiological data to see if it’s safe to ease off.
“I do not think we will be reopening that fast,” Maria Tsolia, a professor of pediatric medicine and infectious diseases, a committee member, told SKAI TV.
“We would have to see a reduction in numbers in Covid ICU; we cannot reopen with capacity at 70-80 percent,” she added.
Government spokesman Christos Tarantilis tried to spin the story to make it seem more optimistic, positive data” from the Health Ministry indicating that new infections in the Greek capital have been showing signs of easing without mentioning they then rose again.
“We would like to believe that the situation will improve over the next few days so that an extension of the lockdown will not be needed,” he told a regular press briefing.
Businesses have been closed more than half the previous 12 months with many owners saying state subsidies won’t be enough to keep them afloat if they have to stay shut much longer.