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Omicron Sweeps across Greece, Now 9 out of 10 New COVID Cases

January 5, 2022

ATHENS – Nine in ten new infections are now attributed to the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, Alternate Health Minister Mina Gaga said on Wednesday.

During a briefing, the doctor said that on December 30 Omicron accounted for 82% of all infections, and one day later the rate had climbed to 89% of all infections.

Gaga also revealed that new vaccination appointments would become available, and those wishing to get vaccinated with Moderna’s vaccines in particular will be able to do so on Sundays as well.

Responding to questions, she said it is likely that private-sector doctors will be sent orders to help out on Friday. She acknowledged increased pressure at hospitals’ emergency services departments, and called on those testing positive not to rush to hospitals to do PCR tests, but to use primary care health centers instead.

43,386 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, 62 deaths

Greece confirmed 43,386 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, with 69 of these identified at entry points to the country, the National Public Health Organization (EODY) said on Wednesday.

Since the pandemic began, Greece has confirmed 1,388,309 infections (daily change: +3.2 pct). In the confirmed cases of the last 7 days, 326 infections are related to travel from abroad and 1,398 to other confirmed cases.

There are also 62 deaths recorded in the last 24 hours, bringing the total of pandemic victims to 21,115. Of these, 95.1 pct had an underlying condition and/or were aged 70 or over.

A total of 628 patients are on ventilators in hospitals. Their median age is 64 years and 79.9 pct have an underlying condition and/or are aged 70 or over. Of the total, 532 (84.71 pct) are unvaccinated or partly vaccinated and 96 (15.29 pct) are fully vaccinated.

Another 3,787 have been discharged from ICUs since the pandemic began.

In addition, 641 Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospital in the last 24 hours (daily change: +41.81 pct). The average admission of patients with Covid-19 to hospitals over the last 7 days was 462.

The median age of new infections is 36 years (range: 0.2 to 106 years), while the median age of the deceased is 78 (range: 0.2 to 106 years).

Worries Mount Omicron Will Deplete Greece’s Public Office Workers

The fast spread of the highly-contagious Omicron Variant of COVID-19 has forced Greece’s New Democracy government to draw up plans to deal with potential shortages of workers in public offices if infections mount.

Omicron has brought a record number of cases, hospitalizations, patients on ventilators in public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and deaths although it’s less deadly, but making more people ill enough to stay home.

The Interior Ministry directed public sector administrators to draw up plans of action if the health crisis gets out of control, to make sure that essential services can still be delivered, said Kathimerini.

Department supervisors must figure out the minimum amount of human resources and specialization to keep operating and to transfer workers between agencies if needed, the report said.

That’s similar to a plan put in place in March 2020 when the pandemic first struck and brought long lockdowns that closed non-essential businesses and public sector services were diminished.

Despite the spread of Omicron, the situation this time is seen as relatively easier to manage because quarantine periods for the infected have been cut from 10 days to five and most of the public sector is vaccinated.

But there are some 2,000 national health service workers in quarantine after being infected with the virus although even the loss of that number hasn’t caused any critical situations with hospitals or health offices, the report said.

The head of the first Health District of Attica, Panagiotis Stathis, told Kathimerini that absences because of COVID range from 1.4-2.2 percent per unit. “The situation is manageable. The problem is not as acute as it seems,” he said.

“We are keeping a close eye on how the situation is evolving and, if necessary, there will be internal changes with staff being moved between departments or the suspension of surgeries. In the fourth wave, hospitals in Athens did not need to suspend regular surgeries and I do not believe that this will have to be done now,” Stathis added.

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