Omicron Surge Stops the New Year’s Eve Music in Greece

And now for the really bad news at the end of 2021. Many residents of Greece will not live long into the new year. The news that the Health Ministry reported (PDF) a record 28.828 (up from 21,657 the day before) new infections in a 24 hours period earlier this week means the COVID pandemic is raging stronger than ever across the country.

In three successive days, previous COVID case numbers were shattered in a new wave that shows no signs of slowing. In the Attica region, where Athens is located, new cases reached a record 9,882, with the country’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki, registering 2,665 infections in Tuesday’s figures.

Case incidence across most of Greece’s biggest urban areas are in excess of 200 per 100,000, higher than at any time since the pandemic began. Here in Heraklion, there were almost 600 new cases in the past 24 hours, and the incidence rate skyrocketed to 193.79 cases per 100,000 residents. It’s important to note that the during first wave of the pandemic Crete had almost zero cases of COVID.

The SYRIZA opposition party is lamblasting Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for ignoring the proposals of the scientists for measures to stop the Omicron strain of COVID-19, and for remaining on vacation while the country falls into another health emergency. Currently, 60 Greek people per day are succumbing to the complications COVID carries with it.

Finally, Greece officials are introducing new restrictions on the hospitality sector beginning today. The new measures include the mandatory use of high-protection masks at supermarkets and on public transport, schedule changes and additional work-from-home orders for government employees, and strict capacity limits at sporting venues. Music at venues are now banned for New Year’s eve celebrations, as well.

The Omicron strains of COVID are now the predominant strain of the contagion in Greece. Cases worldwide have surged since the appearance of the new strains. In the UK the National Health Service (NHS) said that it will set up new coronavirus “surge hubs” on the grounds of hospitals across the country, as part of its “preparations for a potential wave of Omicron admissions.” So far, very little is known about the severity or transmissibility of Omicron, but preliminary studies indicate it is far more transmissable, but less deadly than previous variants.

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