NEWS

Health system tested by rising Covid-19 cases

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Greek health authorities are warily monitoring hospitals’ capacity to deal with the new surge in coronavirus cases.

For the moment, they proclaim the situation “manageable,” but data show that beds are filling faster with new Covid-19 patients than there are discharges and that the number of patients on ventilators remains quite high.

Although it is about half the peak number registered in the previous pandemic surge, many intensive care units that had been repurposed especially to house the intubated patients have reverted back to their prior uses and the private clinics commandeered to manage the overflow of the critically ill are once again treating their own patients.

Reverting back to the emergency measures enacted toward the end of last year is a nightmare scenario for the authorities.

There appears to be a silver lining in the increasing number of unvaccinated persons booking their first jab in the past few days, which has more than double since mid-October, whether because they have been persuaded to set aside their skepticism or scared by the latest developments.

Figures released Wednesday still point to high levels of infection. According to the National Public Health Organization, there were 6,150 new infections in the 24-hour period up to 3 p.m. Wednesday, the second highest daily number registered. While below the record 6,700 cases announced the day before, there were far fewer tests administered (232,409 compared to over 400,000 on Tuesday), so the positivity rate is higher.

Other worrying figures include the positivity rate weekly average, which was 1.3% in mid-October and rose to 2% in the past week; the number of new hospitalizations, 343 in the 24 hours to mid-afternoon on Wednesday compared to 243 discharges; and the number of intubated, steadily high at 431.

There were also 49 deaths, raising the total of fatalities since the start of the pandemic to 16,109.