Sotiris Tsiodars began Wednesday’s televised update on the coronavirus pandemic in Greece with a poignant reading of the first names of dozens of infected patients but also of doctors and nurses who care for them, after his visit to two Covid-19 reference hospitals, Attikon and Agias Varvaras.
The Health Ministry’s coronavirus spokesman and infectious diseases professor, Tsiodras wished these and all Covid-19 patients "wholeheartedly all the best," and praised anew the efforts of healthcare workers in the fight against Covid-19.
Use of masks
Dispelling the argument that health authorities have not recorded all deaths by the virus, he said that the National Public Health Organization collaborates with all health authorities nationwide, and said that "we are not afraid of the truth; had there been more fatalities, we would have recorded them."
To anyone still unconvinced that masks should only be worn by the infected, Tsiodras said facts about the disease are still developing and referred to "a pandemic of uncertainty" in terms of preventative measures. After quering the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, he reiterated its advice that masks should be worn only by people infected with the virus, those who care for them, or hospital staff. "If we all practiced social distancing correctly, we wouldn’t need masks," he pointed out.
Concerning patients who have recovered from Covid-19, Tsiodras said the disease does not leave damaged lungs, but warned that "those who become seriously ill and spent time in ICUs should be monitored for months, even for 1-2 years," after their recovery.
On conclusions drawn from this initial phase of the pandemic in Greece, the professor said that people who have developed a high antibody count will have "a type of antibody 'passport', so they will be able to work at the front lines.” The immunity from the virus may last up to 2 or 3 years.
"We do not know what will happen in autumn," was Tsiodras’ answer to a speculative question on a 'second wave' of the pandemic, and added that flu vaccinations in autumn is an advised strategy, as "you don't want to be seeing two aggressive viruses dispersing in the community at the same time."
Tsiodras also announced 81 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Greece in the last 24 hours and one new death.
He said that including the 20 confirmed infections onboard the Eleftherios Venizelos ship, anchored off the port of Piraeus, the Covid-19 infections total in Greece stands at 1,415.
Deaths total 50 since the start of the outbreak. Of those, 38 were men and 12 were women, over 90 pct had underlying health issues and their average age was 72 years of age.
Some 90 patients are being treated in Intensive Care Units, with 14 of them being women. The average age of ICU patients is 66 years, and more than half of these suffer from underlying health issues. A total of 6 people have so far been discharged from ICUs.
One more lockdown
Another community in northern Greece was placed under lockdown as of tonight (April 1), Civil Protection Deputy Minister for Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias said during his daily briefing on the coronavirus with professor Sotiris Tsiodras.
The community of Foustani, part of the region of Exaplatanos of Edessa and NW of Thessaloniki, will be isolating as of 20.00 on Wednesday and for the next 14 days.
Among other comments in general, Hardalias criticized "a tiny minority that persists in endangering the general population" and praised "the overwhelming majority who are staying home."
He also said the observance of protective measures at banks and open-air markets was much better than that seen earlier this week, and noted that the Ministry of Development will consider opening additional markets along with the scheduled ones, on the same hours and days, if there is a need to serve more shoppers.
On protecting areas that do not register any coronavirus cases, Hardalias said all private aircraft and helicopter flights into these areas, especially the islands, are banned.
'Help at Home'
In cases where curfew measures are strict and no visits are allowed to assist people living by themselves, especially the elderly, or those who were fed at soup kitchens, the 'Help at Home' program will step in to help. A total of 12 million euros will be released to local government for the program, which is estimated to help nearly 75,000 on a daily basis throughout Greece. There are 273 municipalities involved and 3,047 people staffing it, while some 1,200 workers of local town services that have shut down will be helping out.
As for Foustani community lockdown, four people have been infected with coronavirus, according to Almopia Mayor Christos Batsis speaking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency. The village belongs to Almopia, Macedonia, administratively.
"People are naturally concerned and trying to remain calm, since this is something unprecedented," he said, adding that his community will help the 450 residents of Foustani. A committee of Almopia town will be on daily phone contact for needs, especially food and medication. Basic needs will be provided to vulnerable groups for free, while a phone support line has been set up.
Following Hardalias' announcement, the Almopia municipal council and police chief met to ensure all measures to support residents of Foustani are taken.