SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras urged people to get inoculated with a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during his visit to Ippokratio Hospital in Thessaloniki on Monday, while also criticising the prime minister for failing to hire more medical staff in his two years of power.
The main opposition party leader was welcomed by the hospital’s general director Nikos Antonakis, who told Tsipras that all 15 Covid-19 intensive care unit beds are occupied, while four patients are on ventilators in regular wards but are waiting for an ICU bed either at Ippokratio or at another hospital.
In statements at the hospital, Tsipras said that new daily infections have now doubled compared to the same month last year, “paving the way for a hard winter ahead.”
The government “should also try to help stop the dangerous notion which it is disseminating to Greek society that we are experiencing is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” which he called “totally racist” against the 40% of people who have chosen not to be vaccinated.
Tsipras added that although these people “are responsible for the fact they are unvaccinated, it has to be said that the government is also responsible because it failed to persuade them otherwise.”
A 20% of patients treated in COVID-19 clinics are vaccinated, Tsipras noted citing information he said he was given during his visit at Ippokratio.
There is also a percentage of vaccinated patients in COVID-19 ICUs too, he said, adding that this means “we all ought to be more careful, wear our masks, and not behave as if the pandemic is over once we are vaccinated.”
Tsipras also underlined that 18 intensive care beds have been donated by the ‘Greece 2021’ Committee to Thessaloniki, but they cannot yet be put into use due to staff shortages.
“Why did the government fail to realise the need to hire more specialised doctors and health workers, during the two years of the pandemic?” Tsipras said.
Health Minister response
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras should revoke his posting about 18 ICU beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients not being used, Health Minister Thanos Plevris said on Monday, calling him to visit the Papanikolaou Hospital in Thessaloniki together to see for himself.
Responding to claims that 18 beds donated by the “Greece 2021” committee were not being used, Plevris said that there were photographs proving otherwise, while 9 people were using the beds.
He explained that the 18 beds are not for COVID-19 patients, therefore they may not all be occupied or have 100% capacity. They can be adjusted for COVID-19 patients, but the non-COVID-19 ones must be moved elsewhere, he noted.