Greece sees new infection spike, rules out drastic measures

Health

Pedestrians, some of them wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, cross a road at Syntagma square, Athens, Greece, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. Greece reported a new record high for daily COVID-19 infections on Monday as vaccination appointments shot up after new restrictions on unvaccinated people kicked in over the weekend. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece on Tuesday hit a record high in new COVID-19 cases for a second day running, with the government ruling out a lockdown or school closures but warning that it might need to mobilize private doctors in badly hit areas.

A total 8,613 new infections were recorded, marking a substantial leap from Monday’s 7,300. Another 46 deaths were registered, bringing the total in the country of 11 million to about 16,400.

The surge over the past week has put pressure on Greece’s health system, with hospitals filling up in parts of the country. Health Minister Thanos Plevris said the situation was “manageable, but very pressing.”

Plevris said private clinics in Greece’s worst-hit northern areas were providing extra beds for state hospital patients, while medical staff were being transferred to struggling areas. He said private doctors have been invited to voluntarily assist the state health system where needed.

“If there is no response within this week … then their services will be requisitioned,” he told private Skai TV.

Plevris ruled out a new lockdown or an end to in-person school classes, and the government insists that vaccinated people will not face significant restrictions again.

About 61% of Greece’s population has been fully vaccinated, which is below the European Union average of 75%.

But health ministry officials said Monday that over the past seven days there’s been an 185% increase in first vaccination appointments and a 200% surge in booster shot appointments.

They linked the increases with new measures that took effect Saturday under which unvaccinated people can enter banks, government departments and most shops only if they show a recent negative COVID-19 test. The same applies to outdoor restaurant and cafe areas, while vaccinated people are allowed indoors at such establishments.

Unrestricted access is still allowed for supermarkets, food shops and pharmacies.

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