Worry Over COVID-19 Spreading in Greek Hospitals, Staff Tested

ATHENS – With Greece in a second COVID-19 wave because so many people ignored or defied health protocols and tourists brought in cases, there is concern over infections being found in hospitals, leading to tests for staff returning from vacations.

A Health Ministry order for all hospital staff to be submitted to tests on returning from vacation will he hard to enforce, especially in smaller hospitals and medical centers where testing must be outsourced, said Kathimerini.

The head of the Panhellenic Federation of State Hospital Employees, POEDIN, Michalis Giannakos, told told the paper that another 70 hospital workers were found infected amid fears it could grow in the places where people are treated for the Coronavirus.

Nearly 500 have been infected since the virus first appeared in Greece in late February and health officials are especially anxious there could be more because most of those were asymptomatic and could be spread without detection.

Both POEDIN and the National Public Health Organization EODY want regular testing of hospital staff once a month and have called for all hospital workers returning from vacation to stay home until their test results are out. 

There have been at least 20 cases at two hospitals in Larissa in the central part of the country, the paper said, and another 14 people testing positive at the AHEPA hospital in Thessaloniki, the country's second-largest city.

That facility was closed temporarily for disinfection and the paper said there are reports of clusters in other hospitals in the city as well and on islands where the New Democracy government admitted it's not reporting them.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, credited with bringing an early lockdown March 23 that saved lives before it was gradually lifted weekly beginning May 4, is also trying to get the economy going again and said tourism is vital.

He led a teleconference to discuss how to contain the pandemic although noticeably out of the news in recent days has been his top expert, University of Athens Professor Dr. Sotiris Tsiodras.

The meeting led to a decision to tell hospital directors to enforce health measures, which is what the government has urged the populace to do to wide disobedience, especially on islands like Mykonos where wild parties went on.

August has been the cruelest month, the number of cases doubling over the total since March until then, another 217 reported on Aug. 19 bringing the total to 7,684 and three deaths raising the toll to 235.

The spike in Greece has seen other countries beginning to bar Greek tourists at the same time Greece has admitted more except for hard-hit countries such as the United States and Russia among others.

The return of workers from summer holidays as August winds down is also concerning the Athens Urban Rail Transport Company (STASY)which plans to increase random tests on workers on the metro, tram, buses and trolleys to detect and slow the spread.

Most of those will be in areas that have seen a higher rate of infections, with STASY coordinating with EODY, especially across Attica, the paper said, while inspections are being stepped up to make sure riders are wearing masks although they can't, because of closed spaces, keep the safe social distance of at least 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) apart.


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