Health expert foresees rolling lockdowns through spring


The drop in daily coronavirus cases below the 3,000 mark is not evidence that the pandemic is easing, epidemiologist Nikos Sipsas said on Tuesday, warning that an average of 10% of tests are still coming back positive, high above the World Health Organization’s safety limit of 4%. The transmissibility rate, he added, remains at between 1.2 and 1.4, above the WHO’s highest acceptable rate of R1.

Speaking on Skai TV on Tuesday morning, Sipsas, who is also one of the government’s advisers on the pandemic, said that the reduction in the average age of intubated patients from 75 to 65 years old is also cause for concern.

“We see tragic scenes at hospital of 50-year-olds coming in, unable to breathe,” he said. “The virus is showing its teeth and it looks very ugly.”

Sipsas insisted that lockdown measures are the only proven way to curb the transmission of the deadly virus and expressed his belief that current restrictions will not be lifted at the end of the month as originally planned.

“We should be prepared for a difficult winter, with rolling lockdowns all the way until spring,” he said, predicting brief periods with looser restrictions when conditions at hospitals ease, followed by fresh clampdowns when cases start rising again.

Greek health authorities on Monday reported 2,198 new cases and 59 deaths, adding that 400 Covid-19 patients were on ventilators in the intensive care units of the country’s coronavirus referral hospitals.