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Increasing Covid-19 Risk in Central Athens Concerns Experts

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece. Photo Source: Visit Greece /Y Skoulas

Greece’s Covid-19 committee is warning that announcements concerning schools or shops may be revoked at any time due to rising coronavirus incidents, particularly in the wider Athens area.

Infectious disease expert and member of the crisis committee, Nikos Sipsas, told SKAI television on Wednesday that inner city Athens was approaching the red risk level which would put extreme pressure on healthcare services.

Days after Greece re-opened nursery and grade schools, announced plans to re-open retail shops and launched its vaccination website and app, Sipsas said anything could be canceled.

“Whether we open retail or other levels of education … Whatever we do is risky and any suggestion we make can be revoked if the epidemiological data worsens,” he said.

Earlier this week, authorities said they would be adjusting Covid-19 lockdown measures and restrictions week by week depending on the epidemiological situation in each of its cities and regions in efforts to prevent a third wave of the deadly virus, which experts expect to hit in February.

According to Sipsas, the central sector of Athens now accounts for some 800 active coronavirus cases and is displaying a large growth trend. At the same, intensive care unit (ICU) capacity is now at 60 percent.

“This is our greatest concern. If we see that ICU coverage reaches 80 percent in the Attica region, mainly in the central sector, then the committee will intervene,” he said, leaving open the possibility of harsher restrictions for the Greek capital.

Sipsas said further actions will depend on assessments presented during the committee’s meeting on Friday. Should Attica enter the red level by Friday, lockdown measures will remain in place and retail will remain closed, he said.

“In areas with a considerable viral load we cannot have population mobility, which means dispersion and pressure on the national health system,” he added.

There are currently seven areas in Greece with the largest viral load that have entered red level: Western Attica, Viotia, Lesvos, Kalymnos, Rodopi, Argolida and Halkidiki, said Greek Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, authorities ordered lockdown restrictions for Lesvos, Sparti and Argolida through to January 18.

Greece announced 25 deaths and 671 new coronavirus cases in the last 24-hour period, 271 of which are found in Attica.

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About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.

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