Health authorities are increasingly concerned about an increase in coronavirus infections at hospitals despite regulations obliging all hospital staff returning from vacation to undergo diagnostic tests before getting back to work.
At least 20 cases have been reported at two hospitals in Larissa, Central Greece, with another 14 testing positive at Thessaloniki’s AHEPA Hospital, prompting authorities to close the facility for disinfection until Saturday. There are also reports of smaller clusters of infections in other hospitals in the northern port city.
The problem was discussed on Wednesday during a teleconference chaired by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis that focused on ongoing efforts to contain the pandemic amid an upward trend in infections. It was decided that hospital directors will be instructed to ensure that all health protocols are being observed.
However, Kathimerini understands that a Health Ministry order for all hospital staff to be submitted to tests on returning from vacation is not always easy to enforce, particularly in smaller hospitals and medical centers where testing must be outsourced.
On Wednesday, the National Organization of Public Health (EODY) reported 217 new coronavirus cases, with 16 of those identified at Greece’s border entry points. The new cases brought the nationwide total of infections to 7,684. EODY also announced three new coronavirus-related fatalities, bringing the death toll to 235.
The head of the Panhellenic Federation of State Hospital Employees, POEDIN, Michalis Giannakos, told Kathimerini that there has been a spike in infections among hospital staff, saying that 70 have tested positive for Covid-19 so far this month. Nearly 500 have been infected since the virus first appeared in Greece in late February. A key concern is that the majority of infections among hospital workers have been asymptomatic.
Both POEDIN and EODY want regular testing of hospital staff once a month and have called for all hospital workers returning from vacation to stay home until their test results are out.