NEWS

Health expert expects sharp rise in Covid cases

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The number of daily Covid cases recorded in Greece is likely to exceed the 10,000 mark in January, a leading health expert warned on Friday, as the country prepares to face a surge in infections with the onset of the Omicron variant.

Speaking on Skai TV as new measures came into force to stem the spread amid the holiday season, infectious disease expert and government adviser Gkikas Magiorkinis said that domestic restrictions will most likely be adjusted in the new year in response to Covid-19 developments.

He said the scientific committee advising the government on the handling of the pandemic will meet on December 27 to discuss possible new measures.

Early evidence suggests that the Omicron variant is milder than the Delta. However, its more transmissible nature still heralds immense strain on healthcare systems. The public health service in Greece, where a quarter of the adult population remains unvaccinated, is already under pressure and intensive care (ICU) space is at more than 90 percent capacity.

Health authorities on Tuesday announced 33 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the country, with 18 cases found on the island of Crete. The head of the National Organization for Public Health (EODY) Theoklis Zaoutis said another 98 cases were being investigated.

As of Friday, face coverings are mandatory in indoor and outdoor spaces, while a KN95 or double mask is required on public transport and at supermarkets. All city-led public events and festivals during the holidays have been canceled.

On top of the mandatory PCR or rapid test, travelers visiting Greece are strongly recommended to repeat testing on the second and fourth day after their arrival.