NEWS

Private doctors, public urged to do their bit as health system struggles

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Amid the relentless rise in cases of the coronavirus, deaths and intubations, health authorities warned on Thursday that the country’s overburdened National Health System (ESY) is struggling to keep apace and appealed to members of the public and private doctors to do their bit.

With 47,000 active cases and 3,663 hospitalizations on Thursday, Deputy Health Minister Mina Gaga sounded an ominous warning.

“We have a lot of cases, and ESY is under a lot of pressure at the moment,” she stressed, noting that there is three to four times more work for doctors in hospitals’ Covid departments.

The deputy minister added that hospitals are using the same amount of oxygen each day they would normally in a week.

She urged members of the public to step up their efforts to “stop the pandemic” by “wearing a mask, taking care of our contacts and of course getting vaccinated.”

“We are not relaxing. We currently have the most cases of coronavirus we have ever had,” she said.

“We have symptoms, we take a test. We generally should take tests often,” she said. 

Asked about the condition in hospitals and the situation with non-Covid patients, she reassured that “all patients will be treated safely in any case.”

For her part, professor of pediatric infectious diseases and member of the Committee of Experts Vana Papaevangelou noted that there has been a 50% increase in cases in the last week.

“The pressure on ESY is significant,” she said, noting that it will continue for at least two to three weeks, along with an increase in intubations and deaths.

The ICU occupancy rate in Thessaloniki reached 97%, she said, while that in ICUs across Greece climbed to 88%.

She appealed to everyone to get vaccinated, be that the first or third dose, and to observe personal protection measures.

Later on Thursday, meanwhile, government spokesman Yiannis Economou said that doctors in private practice have until Monday to offer their services to ESY or face being drafted to assist at public hospital struggling to cope with patient numbers.

“We will do whatever is necessary to bolster ESY, at any level, regardless of the cost,” he said in an interview with Alpha television late on Thursday.