As of the latest update by the Greek authorities yesterday, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 diagnosed cases in Greece is 3,672. The death toll remained stable at 193, as no new fatalities were reported since yesterday. The number of patients treated in intensive care units stands at 9, while 122 patients have left the intensive care unit.
Of the 50 new Covid-19 infections reported on Thursday, 27 were imported cases – 24 of whom were stopped at the border and three of whom visited medical centers themselves to get tested.
Greek health authorities are on the alert as coronavirus infections are on an upward curve, with most cases related to international travel, particularly from Balkan nations, and several new infections in tourist spots.
One case that fueled particular concern concerns a 50-year-old Serbian man who had been holidaying in Aidipsos on Evia. On feeling unwell earlier this week, he took a taxi to Lamia Hospital and was submitted to tests along with his wife. After they both tested positive for Covid-19, authorities scrambled to trace their contacts, including the taxi driver. A Serbian woman became the first case of coronavirus on the Ionian island of Corfu. Moreover, four Serbian nationals who tested positive for Covid-19 at the border earlier this week are being hosted at a special quarantine hotel on Thassos.
Researchers in Greece say they are close to launching a molecular test to detect Covid-19 which could provide a cheaper alternative to imported kits and uninterrupted access to supplies. Greece currently uses diagnostic kits imported from a variety of suppliers abroad. The potential new test would use nasal swab samples, two researchers said, and could be available “in the coming future.”
Generally, tests both for the virus itself and for the antibodies the immune system produces to fight the infection are becoming more widely available, but they are not perfect. The tests can come back with false positives, false negatives or confoundingly ambiguous results. The researchers said their test had a more than a 90 percent accuracy rate. Research centers and at least two publicly-funded Greek universities are involved in the project, launched in February, they said.
The government’s bid to continue containing the spread of the coronavirus while also opening up the country to international tourism, on which the economy relies so heavily, has been complicated by a rise in imported cases of Covid-19, particularly from Balkan countries, prompting the authorities to consider reimposing some restrictions. Meanwhile, Greece’s National Transparency Authority is planning a series of inspections on businesses, particularly bars and restaurants, to ensure that health protocols are being observed to guard against the further spread of the virus.
In addition to the spike, health authorities are concerned about an increasing trend of lax observation of health measures, including overcrowding in bars and restaurants and the infrequent use of protective masks. Health officials are particularly worried about asymptomatic tourists who have entered Greece. Their presence at busy tourist spots, combined with a lax enforcement of health protocols, could lead to the creation of localized “sparks,” experts fear.
“If we relax, we will pay for it,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Thursday. The government is “ringing a big alarm bell today,” he said, adding that additional restrictions might be announced early next week, depending on how the situation evolves over the weekend.