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Hospital ICU chief warns against loosening of restrictions

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The head of intensive care at Thessaloniki’s Papanikolaou General Hospital stressed the dangers of unnecessary movement and gatherings over the upcoming holidays, warning that “what we do now will determine the intensity of the third wave” of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on Skai television on Tuesday morning, Nikolaos Kapravelos echoed similar concerns to those voiced by experts about the loosening of restrictions on gatherings, hair and nail salons, and retail commerce ahead of Christmas and New Year’s, saying that “increased movement will increase new cases, morbidity and deaths.”

“If someone is satisfied with 50 to 60 fatalities a day, with 3,000 deaths in November, then we will reach 10,000 to 15,000 deaths by the end of the spring,” warned Kapravelos, who directs the intensive care unit at one of northern Greece’s main coronavirus referral hospitals. “Must we see an explosion in the number of fatalities before we shut down the market again?”

Kapravelos also indicated that the recent downturn in new infections and deaths is not a sign of overall stabilization, adding that the situation at the country’s hospitals, and especially in hard-hit northern Greece, are still “unacceptable.”

The Papanikolaou, he said, started emergency duty on Tuesday with 130 coronavirus patients, more than 40 people on ventilators and just three free ICU beds.

“Just yesterday I lost a 69-year-old mother after a battle of two or three weeks, while her son, aged 37, is in another ward next door, intubated, in critical condition,” the doctor said, calling on the government to reconsider the lifting of restrictions and keep them in place until March or April.