ATHENS – The period from mid-March to mid-April will likely tell whether Greece can withstand a roller-coaster ride of rising and dropping COVID-19 cases that has seen public hospitals and the health sector overwhelmed.
The situation is most acute in the capital and the Attica prefecture that holds half the country’s population of some 10.7 million, exacerbated by a slow-moving vaccination program.
The third wave has been stubbornly hanging on because of a lenient third lockdown only recently tightened and now eased again in a bid to save an economy brought down by non-essential businesses closed more than half the previous 12 months in a bid to slow the Coronavirus’ spread.
The New Democracy government’s advisory panel of doctors and scientists is still unsure how to deal with the surge as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis saying the economy is now as important as public health.
The whole country, and especially the Athens region, will stand on a razor’s edge for the next three or four weeks, as the viral load remains very high and the health system is overburdened, with no way to predict when the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic will start ebbing.
Only now moving to recruit private hospitals and doctors who wouldn’t help, the government is watching epidemiological data and beds and Intensive Care Units (ICU’s) filling in hospitals.
But the caution will see a modified backing off of a third lockdown and postpone plans to reopen retail trade on March 29 and schools won’t open again in April, both waiting for cases to stabilize somewhat.
A close Mitsotakis aide not identified told the paper that the relaxation of some health measures were designed to push unlawful public gatherings from inside to outside, hoping people would be able to stay further apart.
But the source admitted the government is at wits’ end about how to make people obey measures after a riot in an Athens neighborhood where police were trying to issue 300-euro ($357) fines that saw one officer seriously injured and one on video shown beating a man viciously with an iron baton.