The news came as no surprise to those who monitor the pace and trends of the coronavirus pandemic across the world but some in the government were nevertheless taken aback. So after the new record of daily Covid-19 infections (6,700 cases across the country), they are now struggling to stem the spread of the virus with fresh measures and prohibitions, whereas they should have taken action earlier to preempt the surge.
Regrettably, a month ago some government officials sought to put a positive spin on the situation. Although Greece was logging more than 30 fatalities a day, they went on to announce that the vaccinated and Covid survivors made up more than 70% and the country was back to normal mode. They also ruled out the possibility of a fresh lockdown.
However, no amount of political declarations can ward off a pandemic. What is called for, rather, is timely measures. The explosion in infections in Greece today was experienced by Israel over the summer. Despite the fact that over 80% of the Israeli population was vaccinated against the virus, in early September the country reported more than 11,000 cases daily.
What was Israel’s response to the crisis? The government launched its booster program for people over 30 years old and then expanded it to those over 12. The number of new cases soon dropped and the pandemic eased. Other countries, including Italy and the United States, tackled the surge by expanding mandatory vaccination to civil servants.
In Greece, the experts advising the government were reluctant to recommend tough measures when there was still time. Meanwhile, the politicians were concerned about the cost to their popularity if they made Covid-19 shots compulsory for civil servants or food service workers.
The measures announced Tuesday by Health Minister Thanos Plevris aim to contain the spread of the virus by forcing the unvaccinated to undergo rapid testing before entry into virtually all areas barring churches, pharmacies and supermarkets. The objective, in other words, is to push them into getting the jab via an adapted lockdown of sorts. Let’s hope that the measures did not come too late. Because the deniers and their supporters are organizing a resistance movement, also with the tolerance or even direct encouragement of the political opposition. God help us all.