The Greek government is being forced to tackle two issues pulling it in opposing directions: how to stem the third wave of the pandemic, which inevitably involves restrictions, and how to manage the increasingly obvious fatigue shown by citizens and which is leading them to violate those very restrictions deemed necessary.
The infection rate is still high; Tuesday’s 1,533 confirmed new cases were based on a low number of tests and the number of occupied intensive care beds, at 605, is the highest this year and near the all-time high reached in December 2020.
Still, the government now seems to show greater concern about the psychological state of the population; and is considering carefully lifting restrictions.
The committee of health experts on the coronavirus crisis is due to convene on Wednesday to discuss the latest epidemiological data and to address plans for a gradual reopening of economic activity.
The committee, which has been advising the government on its policy guidelines since the start of the pandemic, will also be examining the existing lockdown measures and proposing where changes can be made that will facilitate an easing of restrictions while safeguarding public health.
The government hopes to be able to start lifting restrictions on retail commerce towards the end of the month to ease pressure on the beleaguered economy. It is also hoped that schools will be able to reopen at the end of March and some leisure activities to be allowed in April or early May.
Any gradual lifting of measures will also depend on the progress of the country’s vaccination campaign, experts say, noting that the wider the coverage the closer a reopening becomes.
The country’s National Vaccination Committee backed the continued use of the AstraZenca vaccine against the novel coronavirus, upholding the recommendations of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
In an announcement following an emergency meeting on Tuesday, the committee concluded that reports of “isolated incidents of thromboembolic events” do not merit interrupting the momentum of Greece’s vaccination program at this time.
Tuesday’s meeting was convened after the vaccine was pulled from the Covid inoculation programs of several EU countries over recent days following reports of blood-clotting.