Thessaloniki.- (GreekNewsOnline, ANA-MPA)
The National Public Health Organization (EODY) on Saturday announced 1,747 new coronavirus infections in Greece in the last 24 hours, of which 2 were identified at entry points to the country.
The total number of infections since the pandemic began is 103,034. Of these, 4,867 are related to travel abroad and 27,199 to already known cases.
Currently 606 patients are on ventilators throughout Greece. Their median age is 65, 78.5 pct has an underlying condition or is aged 70 or more and 171 are women.
Another 557 have been discharged from ICUs since the first outbreak.
EODY also announced that 121 people died in the last 24 hours, bringing fatalities to 2,223 in Greece. The median age of all deceased patients was 80 years, 976.8 pct had an underlying condition and/or was aged 70 or more, while 891 were women.
“Christmas holidays this year will be very different – much more limited, with our families, those we love, possibly joined by just another family,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Saturday, after a visit in Thessaloniki to the Papageorgiou hospital.
Mitsotakis, on tour in Thessaloniki, had earlier paid a visit to the Ippokratio General Hospital in the city and the emergency ambulance EKAV operation center in Pylea, a suburb.
The National Health System (NHS) will withstand the pressure of high hospitalization rates in the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Saturday from the Ippokratio General Hospital.
Speaking with staff at the largest medical facility in the northern capital, Mitsotakis said, “The NHS came under pressure and still is, but it has withstood it and will continue to do so. We are deeply obliged, and the entire Greek society has great respect for the medical and nursing staff.”
Mitsotakis asserted that “the crisis will be overcome, and when we do so, the NHS will be much stronger in terms of equipment and staffing” and a new system will be built once the pandemic is over.
During his visit, which included a tour of new intensive care units (ICUs), the prime minister said he was aware that the system was stretched to the limits. “We are not here to beautify any situation,” he noted, “we are here to convey our support to the entire staff of NHS, especially here in Thessaloniki and northern Greece, which is being put to the test- to get a personal picture of the situation and to speak the language of truth and optimism.”
Thanks to the donation by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the hospital will get 30 new ICUs and 8 High-Dependency Units by February 26, according to the schedule, he said. Ippokratio currently has 25 ICUs.
Mitsotakis also spoke of the necessity for the public to embrace the idea of being vaccinated, once the vaccine is available in January. “The vaccination will be provided by the state for free, it will not be obligatory, but we are counting on our fellow citizens’ common sense and on the advice of doctors to encourage as many as possible to go ahead with it in January, when the widespread vaccination program will begin,” he stressed.
In an interview to Status FM, the premier had said that “the viral load is starting to drop noticeably,” and the number of hospitalizations during off hours have started to drop, but he asked the public for “some more patience ahead of Christmas.”
The PM warned that “we will still have one or two very difficult weeks ahead, but we also know that when we start coming out of the lockdown, we will need to be doubly careful – what we honestly didn’t do during the summer.” He said that “everyone is responsible for that, starting with me, and I’ve recognized the role the state has played in this – but we must not forget that it’s the individual behaviors that determine the rate of the pandemic’s spread.”
Papageorgiou Hospital president of the board Michalis Karaviotis said that “despite the unprecedented and very difficult conditions we are experiencing right now, we have the support of the entire staff – doctors, nurses and administrators have done their best to ensure the best medical coverage of all those people coming to us for help.” He said that during the first phase of the pandemic the hospital had only 6 ICUs, and now has 44, the best that could be done right now.
Recent hiring has also helped, he said, noting 84 nursing staff and 42 medical staff, “without whom we could not have managed,” Karaviotis said.
Mitsotakis was accompanied to Thessaloniki by Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias, Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister and government spokesman Stelios Petsas, and Health Ministry Secretary General Ioannis Kotsiopoulos, as well as EKAV President Nikos Papaefstathiou, who introduced the PM to the EKAV crews by wireless.
SYRIZA ON THE VISIT
At a time when “all hospitals in northern Greece are collapsing” under the burden of coronavirus cases and medical staff are keeping them standing with superhuman efforts, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis “went to Thessaloniki like a thief to carry out a PR stunt,” SYRIZA said in a statement on the premier’s visit to hospitals in the northern city on Saturday.
“After excluding all staff of Thessaloniki’s Ippokratio and Papageorgiou hospitals for fear of protests, they allowed only members of New Democracy-affiliated DAKE union to ‘welcome’ him,” the main opposition party said.
“Before he focuses on fake promises for a new national health service (NHS), Mitsotakis should take a look at the current NHS, which is collapsing under the government’s inertia.” In addition, he is also planning cuts worth 600 million euros in the state budget for health in 2021, Syriza charged.
TSIPRAS IN DRAMA
“The ministers should stop talking, get to grips with the reality and cease trying to dress up a tragic state of affairs. Above all, they must stop telling us that they are ‘celebrating’, stop telling us that we are fortunate we do not have more ICUs because then we would have more dead and stop telling us that things in hospitals are going well,” main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras said on Friday, during his visit to the hospital of the northern Greek city of Drama, where he said the situation was “out of control”.
He called on ministers “to understand that human life is more precious than private profits,” and stressed that “northern Greece is bleeding at this time.” Tsipras noted that all ICU beds in the region were full, with patients being sent elsewhere, either by ambulance to the hospitals of Patras and Ioannina or by plane to Athens, while two major private hospitals in Thessaloniki, the Interbalkan and Aghios Loukas remain closed, along with hundreds of beds in private recovery clinics, which might have been used but were also closed.
“Even the private clinics that were ‘requisitioned’ were not really requisitioned but rented at double the normal rate in order for the private owners to get more money.The conditions that northern Greece is experiencing at this time may also come to the south. We sincerely hope there is a reduction in the number of cases over the next period but the burden on public hospitals, in terms of the serious cases, is unrelenting,” he said.
Tsipras said he had hoped that Greece could avoid scenes like those witnessed in northern Italy during the first wave of the pandemic but had unfortunately been proved wrong. “The situation in northern Greece and especially in the hospital of Drama is out of control. Effectively, the hospital of Drama has turned into a hospital for Covid-19 patients and the doctors’ and nurses’ descriptions were shocking. We must see if there can be solutions and actions to protect public health,” he noted.
In his meeting with the president of the hospital’s employees’ union, Yannis Papadopoulos, Tsipras was told that the staff was at the end of their tether. Twenty-five doctors and 80 nurses have been infected, two are seriously ill and intubated at Alexandroupolis hospital and, apart from a 52-year-old nurse who died of the virus, the husband of another member of the staff had also died.
The president also raised issues of funding, noting that this had been cut by up to 50 pct during the bailout programme years, as well as staff shortages and a lack of equipment, and called for the inclusion of hospital staff – including cleaners – in the arduous and hazardous professions category for pension purposes.