The first case of coronavirus in Greece was confirmed and officially announced on this day, February 26, one year ago.
The news was shared with the nation in an emergency briefing by the Ministry of Health by Professor of Infectious Diseases Sotiris Tsiodras.
Until that day, “coronavirus” was a new word that was heard often in other countries, especially, in a horrific context, in our neighboring nation of Italy.
Yet epidemiologists, including Dr. Tsiodras, all knew that it was just a matter of time before Covid-19 knocked on Greece’s door as well.
The prevailing theory has been that the deadly virus had leaked from a laboratory in the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China.
First coronavirus patient
According to Dr. Tsiodras, the first Greek victim of the new virus was a 38-year-old woman who had returned from an affected area in northern Italy.
Patient zero was Dimitra Voulgaridou, a fashion designer who had traveled to Milan for business, at a time when the number of cases in northern Italy had risen sharply.
As the woman said on Alpha television after her recovery, she heard about the spread of the virus while in Italy and witnessed the first measures taken there.
Upon her return, she said, she felt unwell, experiencing a headache and low fever. She was informed that she had to follow a specific protocol from that time onward.
First, she had to spend the night in a negative pressure chamber until the test results came out.
When the results came out positive, the woman had to stay inside the chamber for 16 days. After that she would have to be quarantined at home for 11 days.
For the whole period of her recovery, she stated that she felt that she was about to die. At the same time, she said, she could see the fear of the unknown in her doctors’ faces.
Tsiodras voted person of the year for 2020
In the days following February 26th, the cases of Covid-19 began to increase on a daily basis in Greece — albeit not even close to the frightening daily tallies in Italy, and a little later in Spain.
Dr. Tsiodras began appearing every day on television, briefing people about the progress of the spread of Covid-19, which soon had officially become a pandemic.
The epidemiologist became the most beloved person in Greece in national polls. His soothing, sincere, fatherly voice and humble demeanor made him the reassuring, kind doctor who we all needed to get our news from.
He became the doctor of all Greeks. He even broke down in tears when he advised people to take the precautionary health measures to “protect our grandfathers and grandmothers.”
The vaccine to stop coronavirus
More than a year later, the spread of the pandemic across the world indicates that the days of normalcy will not return right away.
According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, on February 26, the total number of people who have been infected across the globe amounts to 113,133,619.
At this point a total of 2,510,125 people have lost their lives to Covid-19.
In Greece, there have been 186,469 confirmed infections so far. A total of 6,410 Greeks have lost their lives to the coronavirus.
Even though by comparison to other countries that have been hit hard by the disease, Greece’s figures are low, there is no complacency as the new Covid-19 strains have brought a third wave of the pandemic and appear to be more contagious.
The Covid-19 vaccines appear to be the only hope to stop the spread of the virus. The first vaccinations in Greece, using the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, were conducted on December 27, 2020.
So far 800,000 doses of the vaccines have arrived in Greece and approximately half a million Greeks have received the first dose, while about half of those individuals have received both.