Update – 13/09/2021
September 13, 2021
September 13, 2021
As of the latest update by the Greek authorities, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 diagnosed cases in Greece 615,157. 28 new deaths were reported raising the total number to 14,169. The number of patients treated in intensive care units is currently 378. 1,319 new cases were announced yesterday in Greece. 199 of the new cases were found in the Attica region and 177 new cases in the Thessaloniki region.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced Saturday that all residents will be entitled to free diagnostic tests for certain diseases.
The announcement is part of the government’semphasis on prevention and public health. Mitsotakis made special mention of childhood obesity as a condition that must be tackled.
Among several other measures he announced was introducing foreign languages at preschool level; he added that 15,000 teachers have been hired, 4,000 for special education, the first hirings since the start of the financial crisis in 2010.
Greek police fired tear gas and water canon on Saturday to break up a demonstration of thousands of people protesting against mandatory coronavirus vaccinations.
Authorities said protesters hurled flares at police in Greece’s second-biggest city of Thessaloniki, who blocked them from trying to reach the area where Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was due to deliver his annual economic address.
The annual speech typically attracts crowds of demonstrators, and police estimated more than 15,000 people, including labour unions, took part in the demonstrations on issues ranging from economic policy to Covid-19 vaccines.
Protests against Covid-19 vaccinations began in July after the government announced the mandatory inoculation of health care workers and nursing home staff. Authorities have suggested vaccines could become obligatory for other groups too, such as teachers.
“Yes to vaccines, but not mandatorily,” the federation of public hospital workers, POEDYN, said in a statement.
Greece has suspended nearly 6,000 frontline health care workers from their jobs for missing a Sept. 1 deadline to get at least one vaccine shot. Earlier this month, it offered unvaccinated healthcare workers a second chance to get a shot and allow those who have been suspended to return to work.
POEDYN is worried that a total of 10,000 unvaccinated staff could be suspended, disrupting operations at understaffed hospitals at a time when infections remain high.
Demonstrations against compulsory vaccination also took place in Istanbul on Saturday, where more than 2,000 Turks protested against the government’s new inoculation push.
Around 5.7 million Greeks, or 55% of the population, are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and 59% have received one dose, according to the latest official figures.
Prosecutors investigating cases of fake Covid vaccination and testing certificates, at the urging of the Supreme Court’s chief prosecutor, have uncovered far more than that.
Pandemic and vaccination deniers, egged on by lawyers who may be deniers themselves or motivated by profit, have been targeting doctors and other health personnel, including coroners, with numerous lawsuits accusing them of lying about the existence of the coronavirus and of faking death certificates.
These lawsuits may sound frivolous, but have consequences beyond the harassment endured by overworked health personnel. In at least two cases, panels of judges have agreed to demands by the lawyers filing the lawsuits and ordered exhumations, ignoring the medical records and the opinion of the prosecutors themselves who had initially denied the motions.
The situation reminds some of the infamous lower court opinion that swindler Artemis Sorras had enough money in his possession to pay off the country’s debt. The swindler was finally convicted and jailed, but the initial decision had emboldened him.
Denialists have also made use of the Internet, telling their thousands of followers in online forums not to get vaccinated and even to refuse hospitalization. Prosecutors are poised to charge at least some of them with forming criminal gangs.
Fake vaccination certificates and test results are the more common ways in which denialists, or simply people out for a quick profit, act.
Such certificates have been so far found in seven Greek regions, starting with a health center in the region of Thessaly. The case is still under investigation but the person who issued the fake certificates has been connected to at least two hospitals, in the northern cities of Thessaloniki and Kozani. And an increasing number of personnel seem to be implicated, at least five in Thessaloniki and three in Kozani.
At a hospital in the western city of Mesolongi, a doctor took a sample from one person, who tested negative, and used the result to issue a certificate to a third person. In Santorini, a hotel employee procured fake certificates from the local health center on behalf of European clients who wanted to show them upon returning home. In Kavala, northern Greece, meanwhile, the local hospital decided that 10 employees will be subjected to antibody testing because there are suspicions they submitted fake vaccination certificates.
It is still too early to know the extent of the fraud, but the issue was deemed serious enough to call upon the police’s own internal investigation department, which is authorized to also investigate all public servants. The department is conducting a separate investigation from that of the prosecutors.
It is not only local employees who provide fake certificates. International websites also advertise such services to Greek internet users. One such page, created on August 30 and which already numbers 87,000 followers, claims to provide “authentic” certificates with active QR codes. Such pages typically ask for $200-$250 for a fake Covid-19 vaccination certificate.
New testing requirements and attendance restrictions on people who aren’t vaccinated against Covid-19 went into effect in Greece on Monday.
The measures include requiring weekly or twice-weekly testing for unvaccinated workers, and allowing access to certain indoor venues only to those who are vaccinated or have a certificate verifying they have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months.
The measures will apply through March 31.
Under the new regulations, all private and public sector workers without a certificate proving vaccination or recent recovery from Covid-19 will have to undergo one rapid test per week.
Two tests per week will be required for people working in academia, tourism, restaurants, cafes, bars, and in entertainment productions, as well as school and university students.
The tests will be conducted at private facilities, with the 10-euro cost to be paid by the tested individuals. Only school students will be eligible for free tests.
Indoor entertainment venues, restaurants, bars and cafes will only be accessible to vaccinated or recently recovered customers, with verification checks conducted at entrances through an app that scans Covid-19 certificates.
Unvaccinated people will be able to enter indoor movies, theaters, museums, archaeological sites and gyms only with proof of a negative rapid test conducted up to 48 hours earlier. Venues will have the right to admit only vaccinated customers if they wish.
Masks will be mandatory for everyone in indoor public areas and in outdoor crowded areas.
Proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative rapid test within the past 48 hours will also be required to travel by plane, train, boat or long-distance bus for anyone age 12 and over. For children ages 5-12, a self-test is acceptable, with the results uploaded to a government website.
Vaccines are freely available in Greece to anyone over the age of 12.
“If the measures are properly implemented, we should be able to avoid what happened last October,” infectious disease expert and government adviser Gkikas Magiorkinis said last week referring to a sharp increase of Covid-19 infections almost a year ago.
In more detail, the 1,319 new cases detected per Regional Unit: