ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Greece hit a record high of new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday for the second day in a row, with the government ruled out blocking or closing schools, but warned it may need to mobilize private doctors in hard-hit areas.
A total of 8,613 new infections were reported, a significant jump from 7,300 on Monday. Another 46 deaths were recorded, bringing the country’s total from 11 million to 16,400.
The surge last week has put pressure on the Greek health care system, with hospitals overflowing in parts of the country. Health Minister Thanos Pleuris said the situation was “manageable but very dire.”
Pleuris said private clinics in the hardest-hit northern regions of Greece are providing extra beds for patients in public hospitals, while medical personnel are being relocated to disadvantaged areas. He said that private doctors were invited to volunteer to help the public health system where needed.
“If there is no response during this week … then their services will be in demand,” he told the private television channel Skai TV.
Pleuris has ruled out new isolation or the termination of full-time schooling, and the government insists that vaccinated people will no longer face significant restrictions.
About 61% of the Greek population has been fully vaccinated, below the European Union average of 75%.
But health officials said Monday that primary vaccination appointments have increased by 185% in the past seven days and revaccination appointments have increased 200%.
They linked the increase to new measures that took effect Saturday, according to which unvaccinated people can only enter banks, government offices and most stores if they show a recent negative test for COVID-19. The same applies to street restaurants and cafes, while vaccinated people can stay in closed areas of such establishments.
Unlimited access is still allowed for supermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies.
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