Greece braces for third wave of the coronavirus as variants multiply

Greek authorities are trying to prevent a third wave of the coronavirus as authorities confirmed the first detection of the South African variant of the virus on Sunday. They announced a stricter lockdown for areas with an increased number of Covid cases, including Attica, where Athens is located.

The new lockdown measures will apply to places considered “red zones,” where transmission of the coronavirus is high compared to the rest of the country, and will be in effect starting 6:00 AM on Saturday, 30 January. Greece will designate many regions of the country as “red” zones Saturday morning, when the measures will be in effect. These “red” areas of the country will include Attica, Evia, Boeotia, Rodopi, Lakonia, Magnisia, Santorini, Mykonos, Chalkidiki, Zakynthos, and areas of Achaia.

An extraordinary meeting was convened by the Minister of Health Vassilis Kikilias on Monday to coordinate efforts to improve readiness both in terms of epidemiological surveillance and the health system.

The region of Attica, where Athens is located, is of particular worry for the health authorities. Almost on a daily basis since 25 January, there are between 50 to 80 new hospital admissions of patients suffering from the disease. On that day 455 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized in Attica’s hospitals. This Monday, the number has spiked to 547.

Health authorities are also alarmed by the spread of the mutated strains of the coronavirus, which are more rapidly transmitted. On Sunday, the National Agency for Public Health (EODY), announced it recorded a total of 173 samples positive for the mutant B.1.1.7 (British mutation) and one mutant B.1.351 (South African mutation).

The president of the Panhellenic Medical Association, Athanasios Exadaktylos, left open the possibility of imposing a tougher lockdown, noting that since 25 January there has been a slow upward trend of the epidemiological burden.

Greece on Friday postponed plans to reopen all high schools next month following a fresh rise in Covid-19 infections, saying schools in critical “red zones” would continue with distance learning.

Athens said last week it would let high schools reopen on February 1 for the first time in more than two months as pressure on its public health system had eased in the last few weeks.

“High schools in red zones will continue to teach lessons remotely,” Deputy Education Minister Zeta Makri said in an interview with state TV ERT.

Similar articles