Health system teetering on the edge

Health system teetering on the edge

With hospitals in the northern and central cities of Thessaloniki and Larissa almost bursting at the seams, Greece’s health system is struggling to cope with unprecedented pressure brought on by a relentless second wave of the pandemic.

Ominously, occupancy levels at intensive care units are fast approaching 100%, with only seven beds vacant Thursday morning. What’s more, any Covid ICU bed vacated Thursday was almost immediately occupied by another patient.

In response to the situation, Kathimerini understands that the Health Ministry is preparing to activate the next step of the emergency plan for Thessaloniki, which envisages the further utilization of private clinics for the treatment of patients with Covid-19. So far private clinics have been used for the treatment of non-Covid patients so that public hospitals could take on as many cases as possible.

At the same time Thursday, a new record was set in the number of patients admitted to ICUs nationwide, which reached 499. In addition, 59 deaths were recorded, with the number of fatalities climbing to 1,347.

The concern has been exacerbated by the fact that spite of two weeks of strict restrictive measures, Thessaloniki remains the epicenter of the epidemic, which is showing no signs of relenting. Of the 3,227 cases confirmed Thursday, 774 were in Thessaloniki and 646 in Attica. Three-digit figures were also reported in Serres (156), Pella (149), Drama (112), Pieria (103), Imathia (109), Larissa (155) and Magnesia (107).

Given this dire picture, the optimism expressed earlier in the week for a possible reduction of the epidemic burden in Thessaloniki is so far eluding confirmation.

The rather hasty assessment of an impending drop in cases was based mainly on the analysis of sewage in Thessaloniki, which however showed a reduction in the acceleration of infections and not in the number of cases. The smallest number of cases in Thessaloniki – compared to previous days – last Monday (490) also contributed to the early optimism.

Meanwhile, an ever increasing number of nurses and other National Health System hospital staff in areas that have not been overwhelmed by coronavirus have been responding to the Health Ministry’s call to help Thessaloniki.

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