Greece facing third virus wave, says health minister

By: AFP      Published: 08:03 PM, 9 Feb, 2021
Greece facing third virus wave, says health minister

Greece is facing a third coronavirus wave, the health minister said on Tuesday as officials met to discuss tighter lockdown rules.

"The analysis I am receiving from experts... shows this third wave is coming to our country too," Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias told Open TV, ahead of an emergency cabinet meeting on the pandemic.

Greece was hit with a first wave of the virus in March last year before infections eased off, surging again in autumn prompting the government to re-impose a nationwide lockdown.

In the greater Athens area, 71 percent of intensive care beds allotted for Covid patients were now occupied, the minister said.

Nearly 6,000 deaths in Greece have been attributed to coronavirus since the start of the pandemic and more than 270 people are in intensive care.

Nearly 420,000 people in the country of 11 million have received at least one vaccine dose.

Greece has joined other EU states in limiting the use of AstraZeneca's vaccine to  the under-65s as it awaits data on its efficacy.

Kikilias said studies on the impact of the AstraZeneca vaccine on those aged over 70 are expected by late February.

Greeks aged 60 to 64, and 75 to 79, are to receive jabs from next week in two separate groups.

Greece has been under national lockdown since November, with movement restricted between regions and people required to give a valid reason for leaving their homes.

Retail restrictions were eased for Christmas and sales season last month, a move critics say drove infections up again.