Government in race against time to secure ICU beds


As the number of confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus climbed to 352 on Monday, with another 21 reported, the government announced a new raft of measures including the demand that people arriving in Greece from abroad self-isolate for 14 days.

In addition, all shops are to close as of Wednesday with the exception of supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations.

Moreover, authorities quarantined two villages in western Macedonia – Damaskinia and Dragasia – after three deaths and more than 10 infections were recorded in the last few days. 

Speaking on Monday during his daily briefing to reporters, Health Ministry spokesperson Sotiris Tsiodras said that in 51 of the cases the source of infection is unknown.

He also announced that the health system will get a 15-million-euro injection for the purchase of equipment, in addition to the 75 million euros for the recruitment of 2,000 healthcare workers already under way. Moreover, he added that public hospital wings will be used exclusively for patient care.

Meanwhile, health authorities are in a race against time to increase the beds available to the National Health System (ESY).

To this end, the Health Ministry has already sought the assistance of the private sector, through the legislative acts adopted since the beginning of this unprecedented health crisis – both in the provision of intensive care beds and in the provision of mobile equipment, such as respirators and monitors to convert other facilities into intensive care units.

According to the latest data, ESY has 605 intensive care beds, of which 557 were in operation until recently. The rest were not in use due to staff shortages. At least 110 private intensive care beds have been added to the number of operating ESY beds.

In a recent meeting with representatives of private clinics, the Health Ministry reportedly requested a total of 180 private intensive care beds. Private clinics have a total of 350 intensive care beds.

At the same time, the ministry is also planning the temporary conversion of other specialized hospital units, of which there are a total of 300, into intensive care units. 

The legislative act issued last Saturday stipulates that private mobile hospital equipment will be requisitioned for up to six months.

This equipment includes respirators, medical devices, hospital beds, monitors and anything else deemed useful for the operation of intensive care units.

Furthermore, the government is proceeding with the production of antiseptics for hospitals and health centers, with the stock of ethyl alcohol that has been seized by the Independent Authority for Public Revenue (IAPR).

After consultations between Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias and IAPR head Giorgos Pitsilis, it was agreed that 122.6 tons of ethyl alcohol will be used for the production of antiseptics.