Yet more disturbing statistics came to light on Tuesday as Greek health officials stated that the majority of intubated coronavirus patients are aged from 35-50 — and dozens of people are now waiting outside ICUs.
Matina Pagoni, the president of the Athens and Piraeus hospital doctors’ association (EINAP), said that seventy percent of the patients currently being treated for Covid-19 in hospitals around Greece are quite young, under 50 years of age.
Speaking in an interview on Skai TV, Pagoni stated that “it is tragic” to have to intubate people who are from 35 to 50 years of age and who do not suffer from any underlying health problems whatsoever.
Parliament briefed on coronavirus situation on Tuesday
The health official said that the increase in coronavirus cases — which reached yet another record on Tuesday — was due to the swift spread of the variants which have an increased transmissibility of 40-60% among younger people.
Parliamentary parties were briefed by Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias on Tuesday about the state of the ICU capacities at Greek hospitals.
He was joined by Maria Theodoridou, head of the National Vaccination Committee, and infectious diseases professor Sotiris Tsiodras, who also briefed the parties.
According to Kikilias, there are currently a total of 1,483 beds operating in ICUs nationally – 1,222 at National Health System (ESY) hospitals, 220 at private clinics, and 41 at military hospitals. Of these, 891 are in ICUs dedicated to Covid-19 patients exclusively, and 592 are operating in non-Covid-19 ICUs.
Nearly half of the total, or 729 ICU beds, are located in the Attica region: 427 in Covid-dedicated ICUs, and 302 in non-Covid units.
The private sector in the Attica region has turned over to the ESY 174 of the 233 ICU beds it has. In other words, the Health Minister said, 3 out of 4 ICU beds in Attica’s private sector are already made available to the ESY.
Of the remainder 59 ICU beds the private sector has kept in Attica, 56 are already occupied by patients.
More than 120 patients waiting for ICU beds now
Also on Monday, doctors from Greece’s public hospital system admitted to interviewers from Real FM that over 120 patients in Athens hospitals were waiting outside ICUs because there was no space available.
As many as 126 Covid-19 patients were connected to portable ventilators in ordinary hospital wards, waiting for days for an open ICU bed for them, they said.
Meanwhile, epidemiologists are warning that the number of intubated individuals in Greece could reach 1,000 during the next two weeks. Intubation is an especially invasive procedure in which a tube is inserted down one’s throat and a machine breathes for the patient.
All normal breathing is ceased as long as the patient is on a ventilator, and when the tube is taken out after successful treatment, the patient must “learn” to breathe normally, in their usual rhythm, once again.
Health Minister Kikilias admitted that the pressure on the national health system remains high.
Surgery suites to be made into ICUs
State broadcaster ERT reported this week that the number of ICU beds will be augmented by using surgery suites in public hospitals across the country.
Greece’s Health Ministry has also ordered that regularly-scheduled surgeries will be reduced by 80% while this situation is ongoing.
Meanwhile, healthcare workers in hospitals staged demonstrations on Monday, demanding that additional personnel be hired to help care for the huge number of hospitalized in patients.
However, they state that the government continues to consider the pandemic a “temporary health crisis” and does not intend to hire more personnel or increase the number of ICUs.
Meanwhile, Greece continues to inoculation its citizens at as rapid a pace as possible, according to the authorities. The online platform on which citizens aged 65-69 can book a vaccination appointment will open on Friday, April 2, 2021, according to information they shared on Monday.
Speaking at the live briefing today, they also disclosed that citizens who suffer from serious allergies will have the option to arrange to have a vaccine appointment at a hospital, rather than a regular vaccination center, in case they should suffer allergic reactions after their inoculations.
Total of 1,630,000 Coronavirus vaccinations so far in Greece
The online platform to book an appointment may be reached by clicking here, at emvolio.gov.gr.
Marios Themistokleous, Greece’s Health Secretary General for Primary Health Care, said more than 26,000 vaccinations were carried out on Monday, amounting to a total of 1,630,000 coronavirus inoculations so far in Greece.
With a total of more than 1,000 vaccination centers all over the country, he said, this means that 10.14% of Greek citizens have received at least one dose of the vaccines.
As many as 1.5 million vaccinations are set to be administered across Greece during the month of April, and they said at least 1.1 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are expected to be delivered to the country soon.
The officials added that another 450,000 doses of the AstraZeneca product will be delivered to the country and more than 100,000 Moderna doses will be on the way soon as well.
Johnson & Johnson to deliver more than one million doses soon
But perhaps the most game-changing shot of all, that developed by Johnson & Johnson, in the form of a single inoculation, will be delivered to Greece by June, amounting to 1.2 million doses.
Maria Theodoridou, the head of the Greek National Vaccination Committee,spoke at the news conference regarding what she called a “considerable number of reluctant citizens who fear allergic reactions, a fear which also feeds from the fact that some doctors are themselves hesitant too, leading to cancellations of vaccination appointments.”
The only reason to avoid receiving the vaccines, she stated, are serious anaphylactic reactions, Theodoridou said, adding that common allergies are not enough grounds to refuse inoculations.
Greece “aligning with EMA and WHO” regarding AstraZeneca vaccine
Theodoridou then stated that so far, only 28 cases of reactions against the AstraZeneca vaccine have been recorded in the 17 million doses administered around the world.
She added that Greece is aligning itself with the recommendations of the European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organization in continuing to inoculate citizens with the AstraZeneca product.
Of course, Theodoridou noted, the country is keeping a close eye on all the latest scientific findings regarding the vaccine.
The official added that possible symptoms which may be considered suspicious in those who received the vaccine would include chest and abdominal pain and headache. These may even occur one to two weeks after inoculation.
She then clarified, that a patient’s history of thrombosis is not enough of a reason to avoid having a vaccination.