Health Ministry spokesperson and infectious diseases expert Professor Sotiris Tsiodras was the first guest speaker of the digital conversation series organised by Greece's CoE Chairmanship, where he stressed "solidarity is the big message. We should say no to fear, no to panic, no to stigma. We are all in this together. We will prevail."
According to a statement from the office of Alternate Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, "In discussion with..." is an innovation of the Greek chairmanship included in the alternative digital actions of its E-chairmanship, offering an opportunity for institutional dialogue, open to the public, with influential guest-speakers from Greece and abroad. The main objective of these digital meetings is to bring the Council of Europe closer to civil society.
Sotiris Tsiodras, who was born in Sydney, has been widely credited with alerting the Greek government about the need for early action and helping to stem the spread of the virus.
Alternate Foreign Affairs Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, chairman of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, introduced Tsiodras, speaking of his "humane approach in a very difficult mission" of addressing the public and press questions nearly daily for 72 days running.
"During recent months, for us Greeks Sotiris Tsiodras has become a model of how we must approach difficult issues in a humane way, respecting human life and dignity," the minister said, adding that the theme during Greece's chairmanship would focus on the repercussions of the pandemic on a state of law, democracy and human rights.
Tsiodras outlined the preparations by Greece of the pandemic in early February, when drills were introduced to hospitals to prepare them for triage and the admission of patients needing intensive care. The lack of specialised staff was, after all, one of the challenges that Greece faced, according to the Professor, which resulted in the hiring of 4,150 medical and nursing staff, who are "important to stay permanently" in the health system.
"The mask war" was another issue during the pandemic in Greece, as Tsiodras argued that there was a "great need" to find medical equipment (masks, gloves, etc.) in the midst of international competition. However, he noted the solidarity shown among countries in helping each other acquire necessary health materials.
Tsiodras also made a special reference to the mobile units of EODY throughout the country, which "tremendously helped the opening of tourism in the country."
The pandemic's greatest message, Tsiodras stated, is solidarity, and he advised the public to avoid fear, panic and the stigma of infection. "All of us will fight this and manage it," he said.