Amid a new peak in coronavirus infections, health authorities are concerned about the growing pressure on intensive care units in state hospitals as many are close to maximum capacity.
With the second wave of the pandemic in full flow and the onset of winter expected to prompt a new spike in infections, doctors are bracing for a difficult period. In Athens in particular, intensive care units are busy with two in three of the ICU beds that have been set aside for Covid-19 patients currently occupied.
Furthermore, there is little scope for freeing up other ICU beds as there is little availability. Last Wednesday, of the 205 non-Covid ICU beds at Attica hospitals, 183 were taken, a rate of 89.3 percent. The corresponding rate for ICU beds set aside for coronavirus patients was 66.3 percent, with 81 of the 122 beds occupied.
Many doctors have expressed fear that the National Health Service will not be able to cope if infections increase significantly. According to Matina Pagoni, the head of the union of Athens and Piraeus hospital doctors who heads a clinic at the capital’s Gennimata hospital, of the 10 ICU beds the hospital has set aside for Covid-19 patients, only two were free last week.
On Saturday, Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias visited Kozani, in northern Greece, the first region to go under lockdown during the second wave of the pandemic. Hardalias also expressed concern about Kastoria, Thessaloniki and Ioannina, where there have been clusters of infections. He described the situation in Ioannina as being “on a razor’s edge,” adding that authorities are “very concerned” about Thessaloniki. Although most daily infections are in Attica, the region is not yet at risk of entering lockdown.
“The situation is critical for the whole country,” Hardalias said, appealing to citizens to observe the advice of health experts, including wearing masks and practicing social distancing.