Despite a continuing upward trend in coronavirus infections, which has put Greek health authorities on alert, there is some optimism over a slight drop in the so-called R number, which signifies the rate of transmission.
On Thursday, the National Organization of Public Health (EODY) announced 259 new cases of Covid-19 and six fatalities. The new infections pushed the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Greece to 9,531 while the death toll rose to 254. Of the 259 new cases, 25 were tourists who were tested on arrival, while 107 were detected in the broader Athens region.
“Despite the recent increase in cases in our country, according to international data, the picture in Greece is still better than in most other countries,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas said. He added that the latest report by the government’s coronavirus observatory referred to a slight drop in the R number, to 0.85. After being at 0.4 in mid-July, Greece’s R number rose to 1, which signifies that each new infection on average brings one more.
In any case, Petsas said, Greece is faring relatively well compared to others countries. It is in 113th place worldwide with 23 deaths per 1 million inhabitants compared to a global average of 105.7 deaths per million inhabitants, he said.
Nevertheless, in view of the large number of daily cases and the authorities’ goal of keeping the R number close to 1, extra vigilance is needed, he said. “The virus is among us and it is the duty of us all to scrupulously observe the advice of experts.”
According to Petsas, an average of 18,740 diagnostic tests are being conducted daily. The results of those tests indicate that between 10 and 15 percent of infections are imported.
A key upcoming challenge is the reopening of schools, Petsas said, adding that the decision to make the use of face masks mandatory for both teachers and pupils was not a political one but one stipulated by health experts.