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Wave of Post-Holiday COVID-19 Cases Warning Brought for Greece

December 16, 2021

ATHENS – Family gatherings and Christmas shopping and other festivities have a noted Greek-American research scientist worrying that Greece could see a big surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant.

“The holidays will be followed by a tsunami of infections,” George Pavlakis, a distinguished physician, research scientist based in the US, told SKAI radio, similar to other warnings he has given as the pandemic rose.

He said the New Democracy government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who said there won’t be any more lockdowns or mandatory vaccinations, should impose more restrictions already ruled out.

Pavlakis recommended schools close earlier for the holidays and for tougher measures for getting into restaurants and public gathering spots although the unvaccinated are supposed to be barred.

“The situation at ICUs is out of control; the number of cases must be brought down; we need stricter measures everywhere; we must reduce social contacts,” he said, warning that, at the current rate, the number of COVID-19 deaths nearing 20,000 will pass 25,000 by Easter.

Greek public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) are overwhelmed, some near capacity, which has meant putting people in makeshift units as the government will not recruit private clinics with empty beds to help.

While encouring tourists year-round now, even during the winter, visitors will nevertheless have to present a negative molecular test to enter the country to try to slow the pandemic, the Health Ministry said.

The measure will be in effect from December 19 and the tests will need to be no more than 48 hours old, which could be a deterrent as it can take 1-3 days for results to be given before their travel.

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