As the nationwide lockdown enters Day 10 on Tuesday, authorities are bracing for continued pressure on the public health system for another week at least, as the number of new coronavirus infections, intubations and deaths continue to rise rapidly across the country.
Experts attribute the continued increase in new cases to a more relaxed public attitude in the lead-up to the lockdown and on looser restrictions put in place in October and since the start of the second lockdown on November 7. They say that restrictions can only be safely eased once daily cases drop to around 500, from a current level of between 2,000-3,000 a day.
Health authorities on Monday reported 2,198 new coronavirus infections and 59 deaths, taking the respective totals to 76,403 cases and 1,165 fatalities. The number of patients on ventilators also shot up to 400, putting an incredible amount of pressure on the public health system.
“Another tough week lies ahead, following the critical week that already passed,” Athens University professor and government adviser Vana Papaevangelou said on Monday.
“We hope to start smiling by next Monday and that the number of intubated patients and deaths will start dropping in the next two weeks,” she added.
On Monday, the Health Ministry warned that almost 80% of intensive care beds set aside at Greece’s coronavirus referral hospitals for Covid-19 patients with serious symptoms are full.
The problem of continued transmission and hospitalization, meanwhile, is most acute in northern Greece, where 95% of intensive care beds in Covid wards in Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Katerini and Kavala were occupied on Monday.
Thessaloniki’s Papanikolaou Hospital, meanwhile, said that it expects to run out of ICU beds for Covid-19 patients on Tuesday.
The northern port city reported 491 new coronavirus infections to Attica’s 492 on Monday, and also has five times the capital’s epidemiological load, despite having roughly one-third of the population.
“Put simply, if Attica were in the same state as Thessaloniki, it would have more than 2,200 diagnoses a day,” infectious disease expert and government adviser Gkikas Magiorkinis said.