Given the gloomy epidemiological picture of Thessaloniki and the wider region of northern Greece, health experts see Attica as the last bastion in the battle against the coronavirus and the key to its outcome.
This is due to two reasons: Firstly, because it has the hospital infrastructure to absorb patients from other parts of the country, and, secondly, owing to the size of its population, any drastic increase in the number of cases would test the resilience of the National Health System (ESY) to breaking point.
At the moment, hospital staff and health authorities are struggling to keep ESY afloat in the face of an unprecedented wave of coronavirus admissions, which is already testing the limits of the hospitals in northern Greece.
Although the virus transmission rate has declined slightly in recent days, government officials acknowledge that it is more likely to “get worse first” before any visible signs that it is under control emerge. As a result, the timing and the parameters of the current lockdown are being examined.
Speaking to Kathimerini, experts emphasize that if there is no restraint in the next period, we may be hit by a tsunami of cases, and with it the urgent need to take even stricter measures that will last longer.
“We can say that the new measures are paying off as soon as we start to see reductions in the so-called ‘hard markers,’ i.e. hospitalizations, intubation and deaths,” said Pagona Lagiou, a professor of hygiene and epidemiology.
For his part, professor of social and preventive medicine Yannis Tountas said it is incumbent on the public to show “greater responsibility than that shown by many of our fellow citizens” in the observance of the safety rules. “Otherwise, the second wave of the pandemic will turn into a tsunami and then we will be forced to enter into a much more severe and longer lockdown, with incalculable losses,” he warned.
The countdown to the post-Covid era will begin in January, when the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine are expected. Medical staff will be vaccinated first, followed by the security forces, people at increased risk of infection (e.g. nursing home residents) and groups at high risk of serious illness (the elderly, people with underlying conditions). The rest of the population will follow.
Deputy Health Minister Vassilis Kontozamanis told Kathimerini, “Our goal is to vaccinate the entire population.”