Greek health experts are expressing concern that the Covid-19 pandemic may potentially enter a fourth wave in the coming months due to a slowing vaccination rollout and new variants entering the country through travel and tourism.
Epidemiologists are pointing to the emergence in Greece of new strains brought over by foreign tourists as being responsible for a possible new outbreak despite significantly lower daily Covid infection and death tolls.
Greece on Sunday recorded 209 new coronavirus cases and 17 deaths. At the same time, more than 7.5 million people have been vaccinated against the deadly virus. Health experts are warning however that the vaccination drive must be accelerated.
In the meantime, President of the Athens and Piraeus Hospital Doctors’ Association (EINAP), Matina Pagoni reiterated that Greeks will not need to wear masks once 80 percent of the population is vaccinated. She went on to stress however, that until that time, people should wear masks during their holidays particularly where crowding is observed.
Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine Professor Theodoros Vassilakopoulos also warned that the pandemic is far from over, particularly in view of the cooler temperatures in fall, stressing that vaccination is of vital importance to create herd immunity before that.
Speaking on Mega television, another medical doctor, Nikos Tzanakis said he expects that 75 percent of the population will have been vaccinated by the end of the month, adding however that inevitably tourists will be bringing in new strains.
“Right now the Indian variant is transmitted 40-60 percent more than the British strain… This is the mutation we’re concerned about, we’re talking about a fourth wave in September, but this variant may also be carried in by tourists, so we may have a fourth wave in the summer, as well,” he said.
With regard to masks, microbiology professor Alkiviadis Vatopoulos told SKAI channel that he expects the government’s Covid-19 committee to recommend scrapping the requirement.
“By early 2022, we will be treating the coronavirus like the flu,” he said, but like others before him did not rule out the possibility of a new coronavirus wave in the fall to hit the unvaccinated harder.