70% of all new infections in Greece is Omicron variant, low hospitalisation rate

COVID-19 coronavirus testing omicron

The government remains committed to its plans to have schools reopen normally after the holidays on Monday despite COVID-19's Omicron variant, Health Minister Thanos Plevris said on Skai TV on Sunday, but the final decision rests with the health committee.

The committee, Plevris said, is expected to meet on Tuesday or Wednesday, and will also review the health protocol and any adjustments to it.

Omicron spread

Calling the spread of COVID-19's Omicron variant "an unprecedented phenomenon," the minister said that the pressure in hospitals is expected to be on the availability of simple beds, not at intensive care units.

Omicron infections have not resulted in a corresponding spike in hospitalisations, but the problem is that ICU beds are now at 90% capacity with those infected with the preceding, Delta variant, which includes longer hospitalisation rates.

"We have a total of 1,300 ICUs divided into Covid and non-Covid incidents," the minister said, explaining that "all patients currently on ventilators have been infected by the Delta variant," the minister said.

The recent measures were necessary, as the National Health System has not decompressed yet, he added.

Regarding Omicron, early evidence from European countries shows that "in Athens, we are seeing hospitalisations but they are of a milder nature," Plevris said.

Omicron infections "on December 21 and 22 were at 3% of all coronavirus infections, and at this point - in less than 10 days - they comprise over 70% of all infections,  a frightening acceleration," he noted, but this has not been reflected in corresponding hospitalisations.

"The infection cycle appears to last around a month, as most countries have shown, and we hope this holds true" for Greece as well.

Merck pills arriving

The Health minister said that Greece is expecting delivery of 5,000 Covid-fighting pills from Merck corporation, while Greece is in contact with Pfizer for its medication as well.

The latter is expected to be approved by the European Medicines Agency between end-January and mid-February.

READ MORE: Greece leading the vaccine testing race in Europe; Omicron severity dying out.