There has been an increase in recorded cases of respiratory viruses, while cases of the new Covid-19 Omicron sub variant JN 1 have been identified as well, with a high daily number of intubations and deaths, local media reported Tuesday.

The spread of the coronavirus, flu and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), has dramatically increased  hospitalizations, while experts advised that people should avoid too many intimate encounters during the holiday period.

They emphasized the need to observe personal hygiene measures while special attention should be given to the elderly and vulnerable people. “Early diagnosis is important in order to receive the appropriate treatment.”

Experts believe that the recent increase in cases is attributed to the JN.1 strain which is “likely to evade immunity and transmit more easily” and is likely to prevail in the coming months globally.

According to Theodora Psaltopoulou, Professor of Epidemiology and preventive medicine at Athens University, it is too early to know if the symptoms of the JN.1 sub variant differ from the typical symptoms of the “Omicron” one. So far, there is not much evidence to suggest this.

It’s also too early to know if it causes more severe illness than the other sub variants of ‘Omicron’, although hospital admissions are increasing in some areas such as New York City, which is considered a state foresees what’s to come for much of the rest of the country.

“But the increase in hospitalizations could be a result of declining population immunity, at least partly,” she added.

Matina Pagoni, President of the Association of  Hospital Doctors of Athens and Piraeus, explained that people should be cautious as there are several types of viruses around.

“There was also streptococcus. Streptococcus is a known bacterium that we can deal with as long as the right medication is given. That’s why if a child gets sick, we contact the pediatrician and explain the situation while he gives us the appropriate instructions.”

Noting that the coronavirus is on the rise, she said that “We can go out, see our people but avoid some things that are directly contagious, like kissing or hugging. The coronavirus is not gone and we also have the different variants, so we have to be careful. If someone doesn’t feel very well, don’t go out, stay at home.”

The symptoms of JN.1

Most patients report a sore throat or an itchy (itchy) discomfort in the throat as one of the first symptoms, while nasal congestion (stuffing) usually follows. Other possible symptoms are fatigue, headache, cough and fever.

Less often other patients have symptoms such as: Dry cough (or non-productive), Loss of taste and/or smell (taste or odor)

When it comes to severe cases, these still develop shortness of breath, chest pain, or pale, grayish or blue skin, lips or nails.

Hospital asphyxiation

In the meantime, hospitalization of children at the two major pediatric hospitals in Athens has increased in recent days.

According to Michalis Giannakos, president of POEDIN (Federation of Public Hospital Workers), the cocktail of viruses that affect children (flu, Covid-19 and respiratory viruses), combined with the lack of primary care, has caused an overload in Children’s hospitals, resulting in a large increase in waiting time in emergency clinics.

At both Aglaia Kyriakou Children’s Hospital and Agia Sophia Children’s Hospital, waiting lists in the emergency rooms are long.

In addition to the serious staff shortages that hospitals are facing, many of the hospital employees have been affected which has created personnel shortages.