NEWS

Experts express concerns over holiday gatherings

experts-express-concerns-over-holiday-gatherings

More experts came forward on Tuesday morning to express concern that a decision allowing private gatherings of up to nine people over the holiday season may lead to people underestimating the continued threat of the novel coronavirus.

“At this stage, we must reach for the highest possible safety levels,” Haralambos Gogos, a professor of infectious diseases and one of the experts on the government’s coronavirus advisory committee, told Skai television on Tuesday, admitting that the directive on the number of people allowed to gather in homes may be confusing.

“I imagine that the issue will be brought to the committee for a more definitive stance if confusion persists,” Gogos said. He added that some experts are seeking to limit gatherings only to members of the same household instead of the current recommendation allowing two households to get together on the condition that their total number does not exceed nine people.

Athens University Rector Thanos Dimopoulos also warned of the dangers of opening up our social circle over the holidays, saying that it increases the risk of inadvertently admitting an asymptomatic carrier of the virus into our homes.

“The more people are infected, the more people are taking the virus back home with them. This is why the committee recommended the limit on two-household gatherings,” he added.

“That said, I believe these are the last holidays we will be spending this manner,” Dimopoulos, who was speaking to Mega television, said on a more upbeat note.

The professor of medicine, who also sits on the committee of experts, went on to express hope that the arrival of the vaccination in the next few weeks will give authorities a “road map” on how to proceed over the course of the spring and summer, but advised patience with restrictions until then.

“It is up to us to observe restrictions and avert a third wave of the pandemic,” he said.

Attikon Hospital microbiologist Spyros Pournaras, meanwhile, advised people attending private gatherings over the holidays to keep their masks on until they sit down to eat.

“We have to be especially careful and uphold the recommendations of the experts,” he told state broadcaster ERT.

Earlier on Tuesday, the head of intensive care at Thessaloniki’s Papanikolaou General Hospital told Skai that “what we do now will determine the intensity of the third wave” of the coronavirus pandemic.

“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 Nikolaos Kapravelos.