A flare-up in Covid-19 cases combined with a rise in respiratory infections have put Greek authorities on alert, as the country’s National Health System is facing increasing pressure for the 4th year in a row.

Official data indicate that over 18,000 new Covid-19 cases were reported over the past month, with the President of the Greek Union of Pulmonologists, Dr. Stamatoula Tsikrika sounding the alarm over the possibility of the Greek public hospitals being overwhelmed.

Speaking to the Athens News Agency, the professor stated “The health system is on the verge of a breaking point, as hospital beds are at close to 100% capacity.”

Apart from the uptick in Covid-19 cases, a spike in respiratory infections over the same period has sparked concerns among the public, as long queues are forming at hospitals and outside pharmacies for up to 8 hours with patients seeking treatment, according to a report of public broadcaster ERT.

In the most recent epidemiological report, the National Public Health Organization (EODY) counts 1,818 patients with Covid-19 in hospitals. However, according to the latest data reported by ERT, this number has dropped to 1,300, as the number of discharges has exceeded admissions.

Associate Professor at the Athens Kapodistrian University Medical Department, and infectious disease specialist, Gikas Magiorkinis told Athens-based TV station Mega that despite the surge in Covid-19 cases there was a low vaccine turnout of people. “There is a strong outbreak lately. It is the largest surge since the summer of 2022,” he noted, adding “We expect a 10-20% increase in the surge. The number of cases is multiple times higher, but what concerns us is the intubations, which are at the level of 90-100, and we still have plenty of ‘room.’ We are far from any mandatory measures.”

The Greek state is readying for the opening of schools after the Christmas holidays, with EODY issuing a series of recommendations to manage the spike. These instructions include regular and intensive hand-washing, use of antiseptic liquids and wipes, proper ventilation of interior spaces, keeping social distances, covering one’s mouth with the elbow or a wipe when sneezing or coughing, and most importantly, staying home and avoiding contact with others if exhibiting symptoms or testing positive.