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Omicron Variant Puts Greek Health System in Emergency Mode

ATHENS – After saying the rapid spread of the Coronavirus, driven by the Omicron Variant, was manageable, Greece’s Health Ministry has activated an emergency plan to bolster the beleaguered National Healthy System (ESY) and public hospitals dealing with record numbers of admissions.

That will include so-called “fortification measures,” said Kathimerini, such as adding more private doctors, although private clinics haven’t widely been recruited for use but now will be, along with military hospitals.

There will be mergers of clinics in ESY hospitals and staff transfers “from department to department,” but also between the hospitals depending on needs after several major hospitals were designated for only COVID-19 cases.

With anti-vaxxers spreading the virus, even among the fully vaccinated, many health care workers are being infected, creating shortages in the public hospitals after years of austerity budget cutbacks.

New hospitalizations rose from 370 a day on average from December 25-31 to 505 on January 1-6 the paper said, adding that on one recent day along there were 2,500 health workers quarantined.

Hundreds also were suspended for refusing to be vaccinated and could be fired outright unless they do, other media report said, which would create yet more staff shortages that the New Democracy government is scrambling to fill.

“The absences of health workers due to illness so far concerns about 1.5 to 2.5 percent of the total ESY workforce. The percentage is predictable, but it is not catastrophic to the operation of the system,” Deputy Health Minister Mina Gaga told Kathimerini, without explaining why there is an emergency plan.

Health officials are expected to soon authorize a fourth shot for those with immunocompromised systems but the chief of the National Vaccination Committee, Pediatrics Profesor Maria Theodoridou, told the paper a fourth booster shot for the general population isn’t under consideration.

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