Magiorkinis: Most new infections now detected outside of Athens

17 November 2020
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The majority of new coronavirus diagnoses is currently being detected outside of the regions of Attica and Thessaloniki, said infectious diseases specialist Professor Gkikas Magiorkinis, speaking at a live briefing on Monday.

Thessaloniki continues to have an epidemiological load rate five times greater than Attica’s, given the population in each city. He noted that it might take some time before the rate of infections shows a decreate in Thessaloniki since it’s the country’s second biggest urban center, warning that restrictive measures should not be relaxed any time soon.

At the briefing, pediatric infectious diseases specialist Vana Papaevangelou said that Greece is currently seeing an “extraordinary increase in ICU admissions,” while the median age of ICU patients has dropped to 64 years. She said ICU physicians are reporting seeing patients under 60 and young adults being treated in intensive care units.

“What is characteristic of Greece’s epidemiological picture is the great dispersal of the virus throughout the population in the entire country,” Papaevangelou said. She added that despite the average age of newly infected people being around 42, in the past week more than 2,500 people over 65 were diagnosed with the virus. “As you can imagine, this means a continuing pressure on our hospitals.”

Both doctors said that infections among children under 18 remain low. Papaevangelou in particular said that it is well established that young children, especially those under the age of 10, transmit the virus much less than teenagers and adults. She also cited a London Imperial College medical report by professor George Kassiotis showing that adults previously infected with other coronaviruses form antibodies that protect them against the novel coronavirus, and that children have a higher number of such antibodies than adults.

Asked then to explain why primary schools had to shut down on Monday (Nov. 16), she said that “the main problem that open schools create is the mobility of the public related to the operation of the schools” – teachers coming and going on mass transport, catering and cleaning services, and parents who are working and can’t stay home. “The truth is that when schools are shut, there is a de facto huge reduction in the public’s mobility,” she explained, while she acknowledged the challenge of supervising younger children during online classes.

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