An emergency plan for northern Greece is being implemented by the Health Ministry to help hospitals cope with the mounting pressure from the coronavirus pandemic.
Tellingly, Tuesday morning, out of the 118 Covid intensive care beds in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, just eight were vacant, while there was a point during the day when their number was reduced to three. Respectively, in Attica, out of the 164 Covid ICU beds, 48 were vacant Tuesday morning.
The Health Ministry will provide an additional 50 beds in Thessaloniki, from the conversion of neurosurgical, cardiac and vascular surgery units into Covid ICUs with the equipment that the ministry has as a strategic stock.
What’s more, a ward of the 424 General Military Hospital in Thessaloniki will be converted into a Covid patient care unit. At the same time, a plan for the air transport of patients in Thessaloniki who need intensive care to hospitals in Attica and other parts of the country is also being implemented.
The flights will be made with a specially equipped C-130 aircraft. At the same time, a plan has been prepared to transfer patients to intensive care units in other prefectures, primarily in Thessaly, Central Greece, and to instruct private clinics that will be converted into exclusive treatment units for patients with Covid-19.
“The big moment of the great battle in Thessaloniki has come. Unfortunately, we did not pay attention,” said Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias, adding that 32% of all Covid tests performed in Thessaloniki are coming back positive, suggesting a higher transmission rate. He also denounced opposition SYRIZA, saying it was spreading fake news that people were being left to wait to enter ICUs.
Across Greece on Tuesday 263 patients were being treated in ICUs, compared to 169 a week before, while an additional 41 deaths were reported. The number of new cases was 2,384, of which 588 were recorded in Attica, 652 in Thessaloniki and 164 in Larissa.
Despite the mounting pressure, Kikilias was reassuring on Tuesday that the National Health System (ESY) will endure.
Anastasia Kotanidou, professor of pulmonology-intensive care at Athens University and head of the committee for the design of new ICUs at ESY, stressed that the mortality rate of patients in ICUs in Greece is at 35-37%, which is very low compared to the figures at units abroad.