Students wearing masks are seen outside a high school in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on the first day of classes on Monday. [InTime News]
Two experts who serve on the committee advising the government on its handling of the coronavirus pandemic warn that if citizens do not exercise caution in the weeks and months ahead, and more restrictions are not implemented as soon as necessary, the continuing rise in infections could reach as high a 1,000 a day, pushing the national health system to breaking point.
Speaking on Skai television on Wednesday morning, infectious disease expert Marios Lazanas and Aristotle University environmental engineering professor Dimosthenis Sarigiannis rang the alarm after Tuesday’s Health Ministry bulletin on the daily course of the pandemic showed a spike in new cases of 301 – of which 197 were concentrated in the region of Attica – as well as a surge in intensive care admissions to 67 from 59 on Monday.
“There is a progressive upward trend in cases that began in August, and especially in Attica, which has compelled us to recommend new measures,” Lazanas told Skai TV, referring to a raft of new measures introduced to stem the spread of the virus in the capital. Universal face mask use and localized lockdowns are on the cards if the new restrictions fail to turn the tide, he added.
With Greece’s intensive care units already at 60% capacity, Lazanas expressed fears that the “pressure will continue to grow.” He also appeared concerned by the fact that several young Covid-19 patients have been intubated in recent days, pointing to a drop in the average morbidity age.
Sarigiannis also warned of the dangers lying ahead with the onset of winter. “Based on calculations, starting in late October with the change in the weather, in the virus’ transmissibility and on a range of other factors such as the start of the flu season, we will see even bigger surges in November and December,” he said.
“If we allow the virus to evolve, we may even reach four-digit daily infection rates,” Sarigiannis warned.
Localized lockdowns were also mentioned by government spokesman Stelios Petsas, who told Skai TV that while the option is on the table, it would be a “worst-case scenario.”
“We want to stay ahead of the curve,” Petsas said, adding that the government is prepared to take whatever measures are necessary to avert an exponential rise in new infections, as has been the case in other countries recently.