Health authorities announced on Friday that mutated variants of Covid-19 have been detected in Greece and 26 new cases have been recorded related to those variants.
The figure was made public as Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias held an emergency meeting with epidemiology experts at the Health Ministry to discuss how new strains can be contained.
The meeting focused on coordinating and enhancing genomic surveillance with the operation of a nationwide network to monitor and analyze mutations and variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The network includes laboratories at universities and hospitals that perform detection tests of SARS-CoV-2 as well as the National Public Health Organization (EODY), which are tasked with sending samples from around the country for further analysis to the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens (BRFAA).
“We are proceeding with the creation of a network for the strengthening of controls throughout Greece,” said Kikilias.
Variants pose a high risk
On Thursday, Europe’s disease surveillance agency warned that three mutated variants of the coronavirus — which emerged in Britain, South Africa, and Brazil — pose a high risk in Europe and will lead to more Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths.
The variants contain mutations or changes, to parts of Covid-19 which scientists say make these variants of Covid-19 more transmissible. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a risk assessment that these three variants have already been detected in many European countries outside of those within Britain.
Strain infected mink population
Earlier in January, Greek scientists announced that a new coronavirus strain that infected minks during the second wave of the pandemic in November has also spread to humans in Western Macedonia.
According to scientists from the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens (IIBEAA), the mutated strain is responsible for the largest spread of the pandemic in Northern Greece.
Mutant strains of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus were detected in 120 random tests of infected residents of Kozani, Grevena, and Kastoria.
509 new Covid cases
A total of 509 Covid-19 cases were diagnosed in Greece on Thursday, seven fewer than the 516 cases that were recorded in the country one day earlier, on Wednesday.
Tragically, 25 people with the virus passed away in the country over the past 24 hour period, which is just two fewer than those recorded yesterday.
Currently, 293 patients with Covid-19 are now intubated in Greece, seven fewer than those who were intubated in the country on Wednesday.
A large portion of Thursday’s cases were diagnosed in the areas surrounding Greece’s two largest urban centers — Athens and Thessaloniki.