Greek Parliament Committee Briefed by Ministers, Specialists on Management of Virus

ATHENS — There is only one national coronavirus registry, but even that is one of several tools the government uses in following developments of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias told Parliament on Wednesday.

Kikilias, along with Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias, National Public Health Organization (EODY) President Panagiotis Arkoumaneas and professor and infectious diseases specialist Sotiris Tsiodras, briefed the Special Permanent Committee on Institutions and Transparency on the handling of the pandemic.

Addressing criticism about the recordkeeping of coronavirus cases, the Health Minister said that the registry was set up in March 2020, was maintained by the e-Government Center for Social Security (IDIKA) and overseen by the Social Security Foundation (IKA-ETAM). Several agencies and ministries may have access to the registry to process the data there. But EODY also has the option of collecting infection data from any medical agency, laboratory, and hospital. "There are no two systems of registration – there's only one, and it ends up at the IDIKA registry," he stressed.

Kikilias also said that the bulk of the vaccines would arrive in April through June, based on the delivery schedules of manufacturers. By the start of the summer, the number of vaccines delivered will cover 70 pct of the general population.

EODY's chief reminded the committee that the agency is responsible by law for overseeing over 52 illnesses, besides Covid-19, and it has only collaborated with public laboratories. What was misconstrued as a parallel registration system pertained to "the system we have to supervise and control mobile units throughout Greece," he asserted.

Civil Protection Deputy Minister Hardalias spoke to the committee of the efforts to fight the virus in terms of numbers, describing the efforts as "a road we had to build, not one we found ready made." Some of the data he presented include the following, since the first cases of the pandemic in Greece:

– 141,204 confirmed domestic cases have been traced, along with 265,267 of their closest contacts

– 4,705 confirmed cases entering Greece have been traced, leading also to tracing of 8,327 close contacts

– 95,082 people visiting Greece from March to June went under supervised self-isolation (including visitors by air, land, or sea)

– 2,427 cases identified at entry points to Greece through random sampling from July 1 to October 31 (when the country opened to tourism), along with tracing of 4,117 close contacts

– 1,638 staff from Civil Protection, the Fire Brigade, Hellenic Police, Armed Forces, Coast Guard, EODY and the Health Ministry have worked "hard and tirelessly" at collecting, registering, analysing and reporting on cases

– Several of the above agencies and others like the labor and market inspectorates, City Police and the National Transparency Authority have made a total of 4,398,088 inspections between July 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021, recording 87,808 violations and delivering 95,632 fines and store suspensions for violation of health measures

"We are in a better state relative to very many other countries, even larger countries with more resources, means and perhaps operational abilities than us," Hardalias said, adding that vigilance must continue.

In terms of the virus itself, professor Tsiodras said that the virus would continue to exert pressure still, while he expressed the view that "its mutations will predominate" in new cases. He also expressed great concern over Attica Region, where he said active infections have surpassed 4,000 and where there is a rising trend in hospitalizations.

Genetic modifications of the virus in selected samples reached at some point 40 percent, he said, noting that the pandemic's "second wave was different than the first in terms of mutations." He also called for vigilance until the end of March because they may "create a problem."

He also expressed the belief that "this pandemic will end with vaccinations – as long as the vaccines are available to the public, as they ought to be."


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