Greek doctors and healthcare workers took to the streets of Athens on Tuesday to protest what they called the “suffocating” conditions in the country’s hospitals, specifically its Covid-19 wards.
The doctors, on a day-long strike, described their extremely difficult working conditions, including countless hours at clinics that are overflowing with patients sick with the coronavirus.
Donning surgical masks and carrying banners, the doctors marched through the center of Athens to the Ministry of Health, giving a human face to the often-invisible healthcare workers who have been fighting at the front lines of the pandemic ever since last spring.
Greek hospitals under pressure
Greece’s public hospitals are currently functioning at 80% capacity, with many hospital beds occupied by coronavirus patients, leaving little availability for other people without the virus who need treatment.
The deluge of coronavirus patients, many of whom require intensive treatment such as intubation, has placed immense stress on Greece’s healthcare system, which was already weakened after the country’s long economic crisis.
Greece’s Doctor’s Union warned that the lack of resources, especially staff and hospital beds, poses a “serious risk for both critically ill COVID-19 patients and critically ill patients with other diseases.”
Due to the difficult conditions, which are only worsening as the number of the country’s cases and intubations rise, Greek doctors demand that the state construct new wards exclusively for Covid-19 patients, rather than using existing clinics dedicated to other patients.
They have also requested that Greece use resources from private clinics and hospitals to help the country’s public hospitals, as well as hire more staff.
Intubations, hospitalizations on the rise in Greece
Although the country has been under a national lockdown since November, with certain areas under less severe restrictions and others under more draconian measures, the number of intubated coronavirus patients reached 346 in the country on Monday.
Just last Monday, there were 299 patients undergoing the intensive treatment in Greece.
Of the 346 intubated patients in Greece, 85.5% are over the age of 70 or suffer from preexisting conditions.
A total of 880 cases of the coronavirus were diagnosed in Greece on Monday, nearly half of which were found in Attica, where 396 instances of the coronavirus were identified.
Additionally, 264 patients with the coronavirus were admitted to Greece’s hospitals for treatment on Monday alone, which represents a 58% increase in hospitalizations in the last three weeks.
Over 2,500 people suffering from Covid-19 are being treated in hospitals across the country.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 1,280 patients have been discharged from ICUs around Greece.