Greece seems to be on the right path to successfully tackle the second wave of the coronavirus, according to the most recent data.
A comparative analysis of new deaths and cases shows that Greece is doing much better in stemming the spread of Covid-19 than the U.S., U.K., Germany and the EU average.
Although scientists warn that a third wave cannot be excluded, Greek authorities are considering relaxing the lockdown, starting next week.
Deputy Civil Protection and Crisis Management Minister Nikos Hardalias said on Tuesday that Greece was “at the beginning of the end” of the battle against the coronavirus.
“Just a few more weeks, just a few more months before we are able to return, step by step, to the normality we have lost,” he said.
Comparative new deaths
“It is very encouraging that during the last weeks, Greece has started to bend the curve,” Vasileios Margaritis, an expert in Public Health at Walden University in the US, tells Greek Reporter.
He notes that although there are no epidemiological studies as of yet to explain this event, the experience gained from the spring lockdown and unpublished data point to three main factors:
“A significant decrease of personal/social contacts for about 80% and the early November shutting down of places which could significantly contribute to the spread of the virus (malls, clubs, bars, restaurants, night curfew) appear to play the most significant role in this improvement.
“In addition, the mandatory use of masks both indoors and outdoors, which is practiced by the great majority of the Greeks, can be also considered as positive factor to limit the cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” Margaritis says.
Comparative new cases
Back in November 2020, Greece experienced a sharp uptick in new cases and deaths, leading to much domestic anger.
“Unfortunately, the lack of adequate, random, representative of the population, and timely surveillance data resulted in a quick surge of cases in many parts of the country,” Margaritis notes.
With stricter measures in place, it managed to bend the curve again, while other countries saw their numbers rise.
“The rate of new deaths started to decline very slowly in the middle of December, but it was then when most European countries started to see a significant increase in their cases/deaths,” the Greek expert says.
“These countries, such as Germany and the UK, opened — without significant control — almost all their businesses for Christmas, resulting in this significant rise which continues, despite the strict lockdown these countries implemented just before Christmas.
“Especially in UK, the new variant, called B.1.1.7, seems to be significantly more transmissible than previously circulating variants,” Margaritis notes.
“Furthermore, most of the European countries do not have an effective control system for incoming travelers (e.g. mandatory quarantine in hotels), like for example Australia has, thus the virus circulated very quickly within the continent,” he adds.
Regarding the US, Margaritis says that November was a month of increased family and social mixing due to Thanksgiving holiday and the Presidential/Congressional elections which, in combination with low temperatures which enhance the spread of many seasonal viruses (SARS-COV2 included), resulted in a significant surge in cases and deaths.
“It is obvious that most western countries continue failing in tackling this pandemic compared to Asian countries,” Margaritis concluded.