As daily coronavirus infections broke a new record on Tuesday, and amid growing concern about the capacity of the National Health System to respond to a further escalation, health experts have stressed that new restrictions that came into effect on Tuesday must be enforced if Attica is to avoid a lockdown.
Experts are monitoring the rise in infections in Attica as well as the rate of Covid-19 tests that are positive. Another key consideration is the occupancy rate of beds in intensive care units set aside for Covid patients. On Monday, 70% of ICU beds for Covid patients in Attica were taken. Infections increased by 30% from last week, while in Thessaloniki, which on Tuesday went into full lockdown, cases more than doubled.
The number of daily nationwide infections announced on Tuesday was 2,166, pushing the total to 44,246. Of the new cases, 542 were in Attica and 595 in Thessaloniki, with cases in Rhodope and Larissa in the triple digits, 108 and 106. An additional 13 fatalities pushed the death toll up to 655 while the number of intubated Covid patients was 169.
Meanwhile, from the viral load traced in tests on sewage in Attica on Sunday, experts surmise that there are around 52,000 active Covid infections in Attica.
“We have no scope for complacency,” said Gkikas Magiorkinis, assistant professor of epidemiology at Athens University. The recent spike in cases is largely attributable to the increase in indoor dining and drinking, he said, noting that an infected person not wearing a mask in an enclosed area is 10 times more likely to spread the virus than someone wearing a mask.
Meanwhile Deputy Health Minister Vassilis Kontozamanis said that 209 of the country’s 331 ICU beds for Covid patients are occupied. In Thessaloniki, 63 of the 83 ICU beds are taken and in Attica 99 of the 140.
“The occupancy of the ICU beds is one of the factors that will determine whether more strict measures will be taken in Attica,” Haralambos Gogos, epidemiologist at the University of Patra, told Kathimerini. In terms of ICU bed availability, Attica is just below the level at which a full lockdown will be required. “We’ll see how the situation develops in the coming days in the hope that the pandemic will be restrained due to the new measures,” he said.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the pressure on the health system was “completely manageable.”