Greece’s New Democracy government has now admitted that the current lockdown to stop COVID-19 was instituted too late. Now, hospitals in the country are overwhelmed by the second wave of the Coronavirus, and the death toll is certain to rise unless extreme measures are instituted. Now, the government’s advisor, Athens University microbiology professor Alkiviadis Vatopoulos is suggesting that hard lockdown is the only solution to defeat the pandemic.
Cases, deaths, the number of people in Intensive Care Units (ICU’s) are rising at an alarming rate, and officials have yet to commandeer private clinics to patch the situation. A letter this morning from Heraklion, Crete MP Dr. Nikos Egoumenidou blasts the current administration for its ill-preparedness. With another 3,209 cases and 60 deaths reported Nov. 18, and 3227 yesterday, the situation is taking a turn for the worse. Some of Greece’s northern borders certain to close because of incoming cases, and the country faces a threat far worse than the 2008 economic crisis. Dr. Egoumenidou had this to say about the situation:
“The battle to defeat this second wave now requires courageous decisions, free from ideological obsessions. We must move immediately to strengthen the healthcare system with permanent improvements. We must increase the wages of health professionals. And we simply must commandeer or partner with as many private clinics and hospitals as we need across the country.”
The Crete parliamentarian went on to say Greece needs to move without partisan bias to defeat the threat, and he assured his colleagues in government that such moves would have the complete support of all the Greek people.
Since the summer, when officials opened the country back up to tourism, the public has lost faith in the government’s capability to keep people safe. Beckoning tourists on the one hand, and opening up the country’s bars and nightclubs in business as usual, just sent the wrong message. Now people are rioting in Athens in opposition to a second lockdown. To put it bluntly, the situation is out of hand. Here in Heraklion, few people really take the new lockdown seriously.
According to the reports coming in, experts now say things will get worse before they get better. The current lockdown is scheduled to be lifted at the end of November, but this is only a few days away. In places like Thessaloniki, reopening schools and businesses now seems out of the question. It almost seems as if the leadership in Athens is betting on the vaccine, instead of paying attention to people in danger today. Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias said this week authorities plan to inoculate 2,117,440 people a month once a vaccine arrives, likely in December, although it will not be mandatory.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was reluctant to put the country into lockdown earlier, and his administration outdid all other countries in attempting to reboot tourism in a year when almost everyone knew the season was a bust. At a time when the number of cases was minimized, Greece took the biggest gamble ever in order to pad private and state coffers with tourism revenue. Now, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said the measures will stay in place as long as the pandemic remains uncontrollable and some health officials said there could be rolling shutdowns until the spring of 2021.
The government spokespersons say the administration won’t repeat the mistake of allowing nightclubs and bars to open because they were mass gatherings of people drinking and mingling. But Mitsotakis blaming young club-goers for spreading the virus seems like a useless excuse, when it was his administration that took the gamble to reboot travel in Greece in 2020. In fact, the tourism ministry of Greece has not let up in it’s marketing and PR moves to drive business. I’ve written about this many times before.
Finally, in late breaking news, the government has now enlisted the support of two private hospitals appropriating an additional 200 beds for Covid-19 patients in hard hit Thessaloniki.