Health minister in favour of full COVID-19 lockdown in the Greek capital

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Greek Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias has expressed that he is in favour of full lockdown in the Athens due to the prevalence of COVID-19.

The presence of the COVID-19 in raw sewage from the Athens basin shot up 205% between January 29 and February 5, indicating that Greece is facing a fresh surge in the pandemic, an analytical chemistry professor at the University of Athens said.

“In absolute numbers, the [viral load] today is much higher than it was in October,” warned Professor Nikolaos Thomaidis, who heads a team of scientists that have been conducting regular analyses on the capital’s waste since the start of the pandemic.

The count on from January 22-29 showed an 80% increase in the COVID-19 viral load in Athens area, which came after a smaller but steady increase over the six weeks since the start of the Christmas break.

“Right now, we have a weekly average of SARS-CoV-2 virus copies per 100,000 residents of 400, when this number was 131 on January 29 and 190 on October 20, 2020,” he said.

“This viral load comes from both asymptomatic and symptomatic carriers of the virus. According to the bibliography, upwards of 55% of carriers are asymptomatic," he said.

"This means that we expect around 40% of positive people for the virus to display symptoms, of whom only 10% will go to the hospital. The rise of the viral load in the waste will be reflected in the case numbers when more tests are carried out,” he added. 

Streets of Athens disinfected to help reduce spread of covid-19
COVID-19 cleaning at Syntagma Square, Athens.

“According to EKAV, 231 patients were intubated on February 6, 245 on February 7 and 260 on February 8,” he said, referring to the Greek ambulance service by its acronym. 

“That is a daily increase of 15, with 10 of those being in Athens, which means one intensive care unit being maxed out every day,” he added.

Kikilias appears to favour much stricter COVID-19 lockdown measures for the Greek capital, in a bid to stem a surge in the number of coronavirus infections and hospital admissions, he indicated on Tuesday.