ATHENS – A former alternate health minister for the previously ruling SYRIZA leftist party refused to wear a mask while visiting a Greek hospital to check on how many COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds were available.
Pavlos Polakis, a chain smoker who defied No Smoking laws – even in the health ministry and at a World No Smoking Day event, boasted of his defiance in refusing to wear a mask, posting a video of himself on social media at Sotiria Hospital.
He had disputed Parliament Speaker Kostas Tasoulas' announcement that Parliament donated 50 ICU beds to the hospial and when there himself to take a look, with no report he was fined although several young people at a party in violation of health measures were given suspended jail sentences.
He claimed in the video that the hospital’s ICU “sub-units” do not work, have far fewer beds and are understaffed but the Health Ministry said he “saw 50 functional beds, in which 15 of our fellow citizens are already being treated. He did not believe the Parliament speaker. He did not believe the hospital director. But he believed his lies. Let him apologize now.” He didn't.
He was already under fire for posting a photo of himself with friends dining together without wearing masks and failing to observe physical distancing rules for which none of them were fined although the penalty is 300 euros ($355.06.)
How many ICU units and ventilators are available is of growing concern in Greece with the fast-spreading second wave of the Coronavirus overwhelming public hospitals although the New Democracy government hadn't moved yet to commandeer private clinics as it said it would, those reserved for the wealthy.