NEWS

Mass testing to ward off third wave

mass-testing-to-ward-off-third-wave

With a view to preventing the possibility of a third wave of the pandemic, health authorities are resorting to mass nationwide random sampling as of next Monday, December 28, to monitor the spread of the coronavirus. 

Accordingly, Gkikas Magiorkinis, an assistant professor of medicine of Athens University and member of the government’s Committee of Experts, presented the testing.gov.gr platform on Friday, through which citizens will be able to apply for a rapid test as of Monday evening. Interested parties must fill in their details, while the application will be registered with a verification code that will be sent to their mobile phone. 

Those that are selected randomly will be informed by SMS about the time window and location where they will be tested. The first group will be notified on December 26, and the first appointments will take place on December 28.

Magiorkinis said there will be 386 testing points around the country, which will be able to perform 12,000 tests per day. “If you help us, we will be able to prevent the third pandemic wave together,” he said, addressing the public. 

Meanwhile, a hard lockdown was implemented at dawn on Friday in the regional unit of Kozani in northern Greece and will last for seven days. Active cases in the area stood at 397 Friday, of which 81 were hospitalized. Also as of Saturday, people will have to stay at home from 6 p.m. until 5 a.m. in Kozani and parts of Western Attica, with the exception of those who have to go out to work. The operation of retail stores and outdoor markets and all kinds of church ceremonies have been suspended, except for funerals with the attendance of up to 10 close relatives.

Health experts insist it is imperative that people observe safety protocols.

“We are very worried. Because we know very well that if our recommendations for reducing interactions and overcrowding are not followed, hospitals and ICUs will fill up again in the coming weeks," said Experts Committee member Vana Papaevangelou.

She added that cases and hospital admissions may have decreased, and ICU discharges may now be higher than admissions, but the risk remains of a new exponential increase in the pandemic, especially in areas with a high viral load.

Health authorities on Friday announced 916 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 and 96 deaths, while 527 patients were intubated.