Athens.- (ANA-MPA, GreekNewsOnline)
Greek health authorities announced 1,222 new coronavirus cases in the 24-hour period ending at 3 p.m. Saturday, along with 26 deaths. The number of patients on ventilators continued rising, to 300 this time. Earlier this month it had fallen to a low of 244.
There were a total of 45,833 tests on Saturday, with the positive ones 2.67% of the total.
583 new cases (47.7% of total) were recorded in the Attica region, followed by Thessaloniki with 138.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 171,466 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 6,103 deaths.
There has been a slight increase in the SARS-CoV-2 viral load in Thessaloniki’s sewage, which has been measured daily for the past week, according to an announcement by the research team conducting the study on Saturday. The study is a joint project conducted by scientists from the University of Thessaloniki (AUTh) and the city’s water and sewage company (EYATh).
Closer monitoring was initiated after they detected a marked increase in the viral DNA in raw sewage during the previous week, as this also increases the accuracy of measurements.
The latest figures confirm the new level of epidemic alert for the city since early February but also show a relative small increase. Specifically, the average for Wednesday and Thursday, February 10-11, was 15 pct higher than the average on February 8-9, when there had been a sharp jump in comparison to the figures for late January.
“While there is a rising trend, we see that from one day to the next the increase recorded for the time being is mild,” the head of the team, AUTh rector Prof. Nikos Papaioannou, told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA). He said that the readings for the entire week were needed in order to say whether there is a trend toward stabilisation.
He said the more frequent measurements aimed to locate any exponential trends early on and thus allow time for the state and relevant agencies to respond, especially after the emergence of mutant strains of the virus.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Saturday paid a visit to the Vaccination Mega Centre at the Helexpo exhibition centre in Maroussi, Athens where he thanked everyone involved in the roll out of the “Eleftheria” vaccination programme against Covid-19.
“Yesterday we had done over 500,000 vaccinations and we have booked more than one million appointments. We are fully meeting the commitment we made to vaccinate our fellow citizens who want to be vaccinated as quickly as possible and with the maximum possible safety, depending on the amount of vaccines we receive each week,” he said.
Mitsotakis inspected the first of the four giant vaccination centres that have been set up in order to greatly increase the daily capacity for vaccinations and thanked the armed forces that provided the personnel for the centre, which will initially operate between 8:00 in the morning and 20:00 in the evening.
“What we are interested in is … for citizens to come and get the service they deserve, to be vaccinated quickly and with safety and for this process to run as quickly as possible. This ordeal will be over when a significant number of our fellow citizens have been vaccinated,” the premier said.
During the visit, the prime minister also spoke with the director of the mega-centre for vaccinations in Thessaloniki, which is ready and will also start operating on Monday, via teleconference. He noted that another two large centres will set up in Athens, while more will be added to increase the capacity for daily vaccinations if necessary.
Mitsotakis said that Greece was currently one of the top countries in Europe for daily vaccination rates, organised through an electronic procedure that involved minimal inconvenience for the public. He also emphasised the importance of convincing those that had doubts that the vaccines are safe and effective.
Deputy Civil Protection and Crisis Management Minister Nikos Hardalias said that the government had worked fast to add 396 additional vaccination lines once the supply of vaccines permits.
The chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff (HNDS) General Konstantinos Floros, on his part, said that the armed forces were once again at the side of society during the pandemic, providing personnel and technical expertise to help in the pandemic.
The vaccination mega-centre at the Helexpo facilities in the Athens suburb of Maroussi will have 96 vaccination units when it is working at full capacity. It will initially carry out 2,400 vaccinations a day in February, which will eventually increase to 5,760 a day and 150,000 a month. Appointments will be booked every 15 minutes. There is also a special entrance/exit providing disabled access, as well as an examination room and a small clinic for those requiring short-term medical assistance or experiencing any undesirable reactions.
A similar centre has been set up at the Thessaloniki International Fair exhibition facilities in Thessaloniki, which will initially have 24 vaccination units and will be capable of administering 1,000 vaccinations a day, rising to 6,480 a day and 160,000 a month.
Von der Leyen
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen praised Greece’s efforts for the roll out of its vaccination campaign against Covid-19, and especially welcomed the Greek prime minister’s proposal for a vaccination certificate, in an interview with the Greek newspaper “Ta Nea” released on Saturday.
“The percentage of vaccinated citizens [in Greece] is already higher than the average in the EU27,” she said.
Concerning a vaccination certificate, the EU Commission president said that “a certificate is absolutely essential. This is a medical necessity and thus it is the right path to follow. Of course, there must be mutual recognition, this is a demand of the World Health Organisation (WHO).”
She said that there will have to be a discussion within the EU on what, exactly, such a certificate will allow a holder to do, adding that the right balance must be found, such as combining a vaccination certificate or a negative Covid-19 test for those who for some reason have not yet had access to the vaccine. She said the European Council in January decided to re-examine the issue once there has been greater progress in the vaccinations.
Von der Leyen also defended the principle of European solidarity in the distribution of vaccines, and her conviction that to place a common order was and continues to be the right decision.