A carefully interconnected network of emergency health care and medical services linking Greece’s islands with the mainland as well as specific guidelines for the transport by air or sea of infected individuals was announced on Friday in Athens by Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias.
The minister presented a detailed action plan in place to address the incoming flows of tourists as Greece opens its borders for the first time after the Covid-19 outbreak on Monday, June 15.
Kikilias said Greece had enhanced precautionary measures as it prepares to welcome travelers on Monday focusing on increasing the number of local health facilities and allowing for further additions depending on visitor numbers and the evolution of Covid-19 incidents, boosting capacity for emergency medical transport by air or sea, and intensifying coronavirus screening.
More specifically, according to the ministry plan:
-All of the country’s islands now have access to medical services either on location or via transport to the nearest facility,
-All hospitals, healthcare units or centers on the islands will be operating on a 24-hour basis.
-The number of medical and health care staff stationed on the islands has been increased,
-446 beds and 19 Intensive Care Units (ICU) for Covid-19 cases have been secured for the islands with the capacity to increase to 674 and 79, respectively should the need arise,
-Health centers as well as floating medical units are working together with NGOs to carry out extensive sample testing while mobile health facilities will be conducting tests, collecting data for epidemiological research and tracking information,
-Syros and Rhodes will be equipped with PCR testing units with smaller units on smaller islands,
-The National Center for Emergency Assistance (EKAB) has been equipped with isolation capsules for the safe transport by air ensuring a sanitary care environment for highly contagious patients,
-Medical air transportation services will be carried out by helicopters and planes of the Greek Air Force and the Civil Protection secretariat, marine means of the port authorities, and via private means,
Coverage: headquarters in Elefsina; Syros base covering the Cyclades islands; Rhodes covering the Dodecanese islands; Aktion covering Western Greece and the Ionian island; and Thessaloniki covering Northern Greece.
So far, as part of the Greek government’s prevention and tracking plan, sample testing has been carried out on 20 Greek islands.
Indicatively, according to the Greek health ministry’s plan:
Hospitals open 24/7
Santorini, Mytilini, Rhodes, Samos, Syros, Chios, Ikaria, Kalymnos, Kythira, Kos, Limnos, Naxos, Leros, Halkida, Karystos, Kymi, Zakynthos, Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkada, Lixouri, Agios Nikolaos, Heraklion, Rethymno, Chania, Ierapetra, Neapoli, Sitia
Hospitals with Covid-19 ICU
Mytilini, Rhodes, Samos, Syros, Chios, Zakynthos, Corfu, Agios Nikolaos, Heraklion, Chania
Aegina, Andros, Ios, Karpathos, Milos, Mykonos, Paros, Patmos, Milos, Amorgos, Samothrace, Thassos, Skiathos, Skopelos, Ithaki, Paxi, Tinos, Salamina
Multipurpose regional clinics – Regional clinics – 24hr emergency units
Agistri, Hydra, Poros, Anafi, Sikinos, Folegandros, Astypalea, Lipsi, Kasos, Nisyros, Kimolos, Serifos, Kea, Kythnos, Sifnos, Antiparos, Koufonisi, Kastelorizo, Symi, Tilos, Agios Efstratios, Agathonisi, Donoussa, Thymena, Iraklia, Thirasia, Oinousses, Schinoussa, Fourni, Halki, Psarra, Alonissos, Skyros, and Spetses.
Health centers countrywide will be on call.
“We are covering every possible case, providing multiple options for testing as well as to address a possible incident depending on a variety of factors including distance, tourist flows, weather,” said Kikilias.
The minister added that the far-reaching plan is aimed at supporting tourism, the national economy and local communities as well as ensuring the saftey and well-being of visitors and tourism services providers.
The increase in health expenditure is “a clear indication that the government did not take into account the costs in order to strengthen the health system throughout the country,” he said.
“We will not compromise safety, nor opening up to the world,” said Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis after the presentation, adding that the “bridge to normalcy is ready and based on a thorough plan” in an effort to re-start the tourism industry.
At the same time, hotels operating in Greece this summer will be required to have a doctor on call and designated quarantine areas will be set up on popular island destinations as well as a set of rigid guidelines.