Update – 20/12/2021
December 20, 2021
December 20, 2021
As of the latest update by the Greek authorities, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 diagnosed cases in Greece 1,034,070. 91 new deaths were reported raising the total number to 19,891. The number of patients treated in intensive care units is currently 662. 2,831 new cases were announced yesterday in Greece. 954 of the new cases were found in the Attica region and 480 new cases in the Thessaloniki region.
A pharmacist in Iraklio, Crete, is due to appear before a court on Monday following his arrest for issuing bogus certificates of a negative coronavirus test.
The 59-year-old was arrested last week after giving an undercover police officer posing as a customer an official certificate falsely claiming that he had given him a rapid test and that the result was negative.
The pharmacist reportedly demanded 7 euros for the certificate and was paid with a marked 10-euro bill that officers found in his possession shortly after when they made the arrest.
Government hopes to delay spread of new Covid-19 variant before new cases flood hospitals
The government’s immediate priority is to delay, to the extent that is feasible, the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Officials say that every day that passes without the variant spreading is a gain, since thousands of people are getting a first dose of vaccine or a booster shot. Delaying the spread of Omicron was also behind the decision to require arrivals from abroad during the holiday season to take either a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, administered up to 72 hours before arrival, or a rapid antigen test, taken in the previous 24 hours.
This is still very much a delaying tactic. It is taken for granted that the Omicron variant will be well-established in Greece in the first half of January and, talk of its supposed mildness notwithstanding, authorities expect that hospitalizations will rise from mid-January onwards. So, authorities want to lighten the current load on the public health system before the new, fifth wave of the pandemic overloads it again.
Three things worry officials: first, the national health system’s capacity, which has been tested ever since the pandemic made its appearance in early 2020 and is still under pressure from the fourth wave, as the number of intubated patients, 684 last Friday, shows; second, the country’s aging population, which makes it more vulnerable to the new wave even if Omicron, already proven highly infectious, turns out to be relatively mild; third, a hard core of elderly vaccine skeptics or outright deniers.
Since the government made it mandatory for the over-60s to be vaccinated, about 150,000 out of 530,000 unvaccinated in that age group have either taken the jab or booked an appointment. But time is running out and, even with those unvaccinated by January 16 facing a monthly fine of 100 euros, officials estimate that not much more than 50% of those 530,000 people will be vaccinated by the deadline.
The government has also had to defend itself from opposition attacks over the findings of a study that show disparities in the quality of ICU treatment across the country.
Young adults aged 18 to 25 years old who have received the first or only dose of a Covid vaccine by December 31 will be issued with a so-called Freedom Pass, a digital card creditedwith 150 euros by the state, which can be spent on transportation and various tourism and leisure activities.
Freedom Passes issued by the end of this year will be valid until June 30, the government clarified after conflicting reports suggesting that new cards would be issued for people who already have one in the new year.
Last week, the government said it was extending Freedom Passes by six months until next summer to help holders make full use of their credits. The scheme has already benefited more than half a million people.
Despite the growing concern sparked by the Omicron variant, health authorities said Friday that the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic was indeed showing signs that it is on a downward trajectory, as the number of cases and intubations and new hospital admissions are gradually declining.
The National Public Health Organization (EODY) announced 4,766 new cases of Covid-19 and 85 deaths of patients diagnosed with the disease.
The number of patients being treated by intubation was 684 (eight less than the day before), while the number of new admissions was significantly lower (319 compared to an average 364 admissions over the previous seven days).
Asked about mounting speculation in recent days about the possibility of new measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Health Minister Thanos Plevris said, “This is a possibility that always remains on the table.”
However, he told Skai Radio that he was optimistic this will not be the case, based on the encouraging data of the vaccination program and the fact that 80% of adults in Greece have been vaccinated.
Regarding mandatory vaccinations, Plevris stressed that it was imposed on citizens over 60 because they are the ones who are getting seriously ill and placing pressure on the National Health System. He clarified that if the obligation is extended, it will exclusively concern the groups of citizens that are deemed to be a burden on the National Health System.
Meanwhile, the Panhellenic Medical Association reiterated that all citizens need to get vaccinated to protect themselves against the Omicron variant, which is expected to prevail.
To this end, it has launched a digital platform where citizens can find doctors who perform vaccinations at home, in an effort to speed up the vaccination program.
It said that the platform emvolio.giatroi.org.gr is already in full operation, with hundreds of private doctors of different specializations, including children’s doctors, participating.
In more detail, the 2,831 new cases detected per Regional Unit: