The coronavirus in Greece will spread faster after the holiday season because people were more lax during the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Day, scientists warn.
Reports from the liturgies on the feast of Epiphany across Greece on Wednesday alarmed scientists, with some wondering aloud why so many faithful ignored the Covid-19 prevention measures that were in place.
In several churches across the country priests gave Holy Communion despite the clear advice to the contrary — while in some churches, the numbers of parishioners were larger than the government decree allowed.
“I was shocked at how we can behave in such a way during a pandemic,” said Manolis Dermitzakis, Genetics Professor at the Geneva Medical School.
“It is not a matter of faith, it is a matter of pure scientific evidence”, he said. “Large crowds and people sharing a (Holy Communion) spoon means that science is rejected.”
The professor further stated that it is a positive move on the government’s part to extend the lockdown before schools open. However, he said, after what happened on Epiphany, schools might be forced to close again.
Yiannis Tountas, a professor of Social and Preventive Medicine at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, agreed, saying that the Epiphany holiday will bring an increase in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks.
“Not only I am worried, I am certain that we will see many new infections after what we saw at the Epiphany celebrations.
“We did not learn from the mistakes we made during the Agios Dimitrios Feast (Oct 26) in Thessaloniki,” he noted.
“After the feast, we saw a big local outbreak of the epidemic and mourned dozens of deaths, something that we could have avoided.”
Commenting on the slow pace of vaccinations in Greece and abroad, Dr. Tountas said that the delay “will take us two to three months back.”
Third wave of Coronavirus in Greece
Dr. Nikolaos Kapravelos, Director of the ICU Department at Papanikolaou Hospital in Thessaloniki, shared his unsettling belief that there will be a third wave of the pandemic.
Commenting on the crowding on Epiphany, the doctor said that the coming wave of the pandemic will cause many more infections and deaths.
“Based on what we saw on Epiphany day, with this kind of behavior, soon we will not be talking about the Thessaloniki tragedy but the country’s tragedy,” he warned.
“It is certain that we will have a third wave ahead of us and we will be mourning many victims,” the doctor stated, adding that the ICU system across the country is now overloaded.