The COVID situation in Greece today proves that there is balance in the universe. The country’s stellar initial response to the coronavirus pandemic is now being countered by a level of malfeasances and mediocrity that is unprecedented. News from the American journal Politico tells us Greek officials have gone off their rockers. After reading this, you’ll wonder like I am, if the reason for the growing COVID threat is not a bad overall strategy.
Let’s just cut to it. Tourism Minister Theoharis has been bragging for months about how his ministry managed to reopen Greece to tourists despite a worldwide pandemic threatening all that we know. Talk about a man with a job focus! But get this, now the tourism ministry is playing a key role in distributing the COVID-19 vaccines to tiny islands with no infections, instead of to at-risk populations in so-called “red zones”. No, I am not joking. The New Democracy government has decided to immunize every tiny islet community in Greece, before making sure old people and those with underlying conditions are safe.
The Politico story starts out with “Greece is thinking small — literally — when it comes to reopening to tourists this summer.” Then author Nektaria Stamouli explains how the Mitsotakis administration wants to make sure residents of small islands and islets are given their coronavirus vaccinations first so that those islands can be labeled and marketed as COVID-free. So, marketing tourism destinations takes precedent over your life, the Heraklion grandma’s life, and as fate would have it, mine.
Funny thing, late last night my cardiologist said I should go to PAGNI Hospital here in Heraklion, to take the COVID-19 test just in case my cold is not a cold. Judging by what I saw at the University Hospital as I waited outside in the cold with an 80-something lady coughing viscously, Mitsotakis and Co. have their priorities and Greece resources all out of whack. This quote from Harry Theoharis speaks volumes about what’s important to Greece’s leadership:
“We managed last year, under much more difficult circumstances, to open and keep the necessary balance. This summer, with more tools and data at our disposal and with the confidence of the vaccination program, we will be able to achieve something much better.”
Since February 27th, the islands of Lefkada, Syros, and Samos, the towns of Arta and Amphilochia in western Greece, the Corinth area, and the city of Heraklion have been on lockdown after big upticks of COVID infections. In Athens, Thessaloniki, and Halkidiki there has been no letup from ongoing measures to stem the tide of coronavirus cases. In Evia, Achaia, and Arcadia lockdowns were also imposed. Meanwhile, the government has apparently shifted priorities to immunize places where mostly rich people with yachts visit. Yes, I am serious.
The genius plan is best understood if we consider Greece’s most remote island of Kastellorizo, in the Dodecanese, was the first place in the country to have its entire adult population vaccinated — all 500 of them. That’s 500 doses of vaccine that might have protected 499 at-risk people including the old lady with me at PAGNI last night who could not breathe properly. Let’s think about that before I continue……..
I am hoping and praying that the fact that immunizing tiny remote islands like Kastellorizo, which is one key to Turkish ambitions in the eastern Mediterranean, has not played a role in the decision to immunize Greece’s least critical citizens from a pandemic decimating bigger islands and towns. Surely, the government would never stoop to politicizing life and death in this way! Certainly not, since the end of the Politico story has Theoharis denying that tourism was to blame for the country’s second wave last autumn.
How could a government’s leadership empower its citizens to run around without masks on and to gather as they always have, in the midst of a deadly pandemic? Well, by declaring the country safe for visitors from all over HELL, and concerning itself with big wig hoteliers moaning and German tour companies whining, that’s how.
At the end of the day these officials ended up killing people in my opinion, and there’s no way around it. Now, more people will get sick, lose their homes, and even die because a bunch of nincompoops in Athens cannot find the courage to get the real job of protecting human life first done.
The fact that this new strategy for inoculating islands where big American investment groups have multimillion-dollar resort projects underway has not skipped my notice either. This report tells more about how New Democracy plans to jump to Corfu next, where NCH Capital is building a big 5-star resort. And the fact that the new strategy is geared to go along with a tourism ministry push to get Britons to these islands, it comes as no surprise now. Wow!
Business! In Greece, it’s as usual, like a Trojan Horse surprise every day. A question that comes to mind now is: “Will TUI start pushing travel to these “first inoculated” islands before promoting Crete and bigger destinations?”
If they do, you will know who is behind the vaccination passport initiative Greek leaders are pushing.
TUI Group CEO Fritz Joussen: »A European vaccination passport can help restore freedom to travel. There is no doubt about that. With a uniform EU certificate, politicians can now create an important basis for summer travel.«#Restart2021 pic.twitter.com/HhV4epwF6K— TUI Group (@TUIGroup) March 1, 2021
Now I’ll just wait for my test results, and I’ll be thinking about that poor old lady in black, standing in the rain to get attention at a mockup COVID emergency clinic. What a disgrace.
A final note: The condition of the facilities at PAGNI Hospital should in no way reflect the extraordinary doctors, nurses, and clinicians who work there. These people literally saved my life back in 2018, and I cannot say enough good things about them. That said, what they have to work with, the budgets for their departments and other factors make their task all the more difficult. And this is, in part, why I included the photos outside the provisional (I assume) COVID emergency section.