Update – 22/12/2021
December 22, 2021
December 22, 2021
As of the latest update by the Greek authorities, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 diagnosed cases in Greece 1,044,301. 77 new deaths were reported raising the total number to 20,055. The number of patients treated in intensive care units is currently 661. 6,424 new cases were announced yesterday in Greece. 2,264 of the new cases were found in the Attica region and 1,003 new cases in the Thessaloniki region.
Even though the government had reportedly almost made up its mind on Sunday to introduce the obligation for vaccinated people to take a registered rapid test at a pharmacy or testing center before entering entertainment venues on New Year’s Eve, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced something much milder Tuesday.
Instead of a rapid test, everyone, vaccinated or not, will have to have a self-test. For the vaccinated, there will be no obligation but a “strong recommendation.”
The self-testing kits will be available at pharmacies for people who have a social security number (AMKA).
“It is true that I was advised to introduce mandatory rapid tests for everybody for admission to all leisure and entertainment venues. I rejected the proposal because I thought the measure would be unfair to the vaccinated and ultimately too difficult to implement,” Mitsotakis told the cabinet.
“So instead of imposing something on everyone, I chose to trust everyone,” he added
Among the obstacles posed regarding the rapid tests were questions related to logistics. For example, whether the rapid test should be done 48 or 72 hours before entering an enclosed space. The former would be difficult to implement as the system would have to deal with about 2 million tests in less than two days, something that has never been done before.
Anticorruption officials have filed a report to prosecutor after an inspection of a pharmacy found that its owner had issued over 2,000 bogus rapid test results.
Inspectors from the National Transparency Authority, in collaboration with officers from the Financial Police Directorate, established that there was no corresponding test number for 2,198 tests uploaded to the National Covid-19 Patient Registry.
The pharmacist subsequently submitted invoices for the purchase of a brand of test that, however, was not being sold at the time by the alleged supplier.
In addition to informing the prosecutor, the inspectors have also informed the Independent Public Revenue Authority over possible tax violations.
The government is implementing a two-phase plan to delay and limit, as far as possible, the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The plan will unfold over the holidays and the first weeks of 2022.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced Tuesday the free distribution of two self tests to all residents. He noted that he rejected proposals for mandatory rapid tests as such a measure would be unfair to those vaccinated and ultimately would be very difficult to implement.
Mitsotakis said that, depending on the evolution of the pandemic over the first weeks of 2022, the government has at its disposal a range of options, such as the extension of work from home and the adjustment of opening hours in catering and entertainment. “No suspension of the operation of schools, however. But everything, I stress, will be judged by the data available then. No decision has been made yet,” he said.
Mitsotakis said at a cabinet meeting Tuesday that the government’s goal for the coming weeks is twofold: first, “delay, as far as possible, the spread of the new variant [of the pandemic] which, certainly, will become the most prevalent. Second, “take advantage of this time window to strengthen our defenses, mainly with the third, booster vaccination.”
Eight residents of a private elderly home facility in the city of Patras in western Greece died of Covid-19 in the last month. Seven of them had not been vaccinated.
The first infections were detected in Nov. 19 while an additional but unspecified number of residents are currently in hospital in serious condition. Achaia’s deputy regional governor Charalambos Bonanos said two more seniors in the same facility died from comorbidities in recent days, who had previously tested positive for the virus.
Asked whether the nursing home’s employees had been inoculated, Bonanos said checks performed “on those who have been declared in the Ergani labor database” show that they had.
He said authorities are investigating the source of the infection and whether the facility abided by the health protocols required for its operation.
The European Commission on Tuesday adopted rules that will make the European Union Covid-19 certificate valid for travel nine months after the completion of the primary vaccination schedule.
The proposal comes as several EU states introduce additional requirements on travellers in a bid to reduce the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders told Reuters the EU Commission was against additional requirements, and was assessing the measures.
The new rules will be binding on the 27 EU states from Feb. 1. The rule can be blocked by a qualified majority of EU governments or a simple majority of European Parliament members, but officials have said there is sufficient support for it.
The rule replaces a non-binding recommendation the EU Commission put forward in November.
Once the rule is effective, EU states will be obliged to let fully vaccinated travellers with a valid pass access their territory. However, as an exception justified by a deteriorating situation, they could still impose further requirements, such as negative tests or quarantines, as long as they are proportionate.
Seven EU states are currently requiring fully vaccinated travellers from other EU countries to also show a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival, measures some see as damaging the credibility of the EU pass.The states are Italy, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Latvia, Cyprus and Austria.
“We prefer to use for the free movement in Europe only the certificate without additional measures,” Reynders said.
He noted that the additional requirements could be justified by concerns caused by the spread of the Omicron variant, but governments had to prove they were proportionate and necessary.
The Commission was still assessing the measures, Reynders said, adding that infringements proceedings for time-limited restrictions made little sense.
The national measures are mostly limited to the Christmas period, although Italy’s extend until the end of January.
The new rules apply only for international travel.
Governments will be able to have a different duration of the Covid-19 pass for access to events or indoor activities within their territories.
After a booster shot, the validity of the Covid-19 pass will be extended further without a set limit, because at the moment there is not enough information about the duration of protection from boosters, an EU official said.
A primary vaccination schedule for Covid-19 is currently composed in the EU of two shots of vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech , AstraZeneca and Moderna, or a single jab of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
In more detail, the 6,424 new cases detected per Regional Unit: