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Round the clock medical centers imminent to ease burden on hospitals

PENNY BOULOUTZA

TAGS: Coronavirus, Health

As the next phase of its response to the coronavirus pandemic the Health Ministry has planned an overhaul of the primary healthcare system that aims to relieve some of the pressure on overburdened hospitals, chiefly through the creation of a network of 24-hour medical centers treating patients with mild symptoms of Covid-19.

The centers will be used to treat patients whose symptoms are manageable, particularly those who belong to high-risk groups such as the elderly, transferring them to the hospital only if necessary.

Citizens will also be able to call the centers for advice or have online consultations, and private doctors will also be able to participate, charging 10 euros per call.

The first 24-hour Covid-19 centers are to be set up in Attica, at existing healthcare facilities on Alexandras Avenue in central Athens, as well as in Kalyvia, Rafina, Kaminia and Peristeri. Centers are also to operate in Thessaloniki, Patra, Larissa and Iraklio, Crete.

The ministry is further planning to set up mobile medical units consisting of a doctor and a nurse or care attendant who will be responsible for monitoring patients at home, particularly the elderly and people with chronic illnesses. Private doctors who join this service will charge 30 euros per house call.

The number of coronavirus cases in Greece has risen to 1,613, ministry spokesman Sotiris Tsiodras said on Friday, announcing 99 new cases. He added that the death toll increased to 59.

The positive cases include 121 people on a passenger ferry docked at the port of Piraeus, and 23 residents of a refugee facility in Ritsona, north of Athens.

Tsiodras expressed cautious optimism about the evolution of the pandemic in Greece while warning against complacency. Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias, for his part, said there would be no need for further restrictions if a government lockdown is observed.

However, there are concerns about a possible exodus from the cities for Orthodox Easter later this month, despite a possible plan by the government to oblige all travelers to carry tax declarations proving their permanent residence so as to discourage holidays away from home. Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said that the option of shutting down highway toll gates was on the table. 

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