ATHENS – Just as it seemed the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to wane – health measures are being eased and there was talk they could even be lifted by summer – the Omicron BA.2 sub-variant has pushed cases up again in Greece.
That came as the New Democracy government’s advisory panel of doctors and scientists reviewed epidemiological data to determine recommendations, with the country opening to tourists and hoping for an economic comeback.
Cautious optimism was upended over a sudden surprise surge of cases and hospitalizations, although daily deaths and the number of people on ventilators in public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUS) were stable.
Athanasios Tsakris, a Professor of Microbiology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens told SKAI TV that Omicron BA.2 causes relatively mild infections, like the original Omicron variant, but has a longer duration.
Those infected remain positive even with an antigen (rapid) test for about 10 days, which helps to further spread the virus and keep the viral load relatively high for a longer period of time, primarily being spread by anti-vaxxers.
Data on March 29 from the National Public Health Organization (EODY) revealed 28,933 cases and a positivity rate of 6.65 percent, the highest in some two months, bringing further concern that the pandemic isn’t going away yet.
Analyses of wastewater showed a viral load rising again said EODY’s National Network of Sewage Epidemiology, in Attica, Ioannina, Agios Nikolaos and Iraklio, also reported Kathimerini.
Health officials earlier in March said they hoped the number of intubated patients would fall to about 300 by the end of the month but it’s now around 400, adding continuing pressure to a beleaguered public hospital system.