The Greek Health Ministry and the Civil Protection bureau issued a COVID-19 orange alert (moderate risk) today after the appearance and expected spread of the more transmissible Delta variant, which was isolated in India, especially on the island of Crete, which has the most confirmed cases.

Although experts have recently been stressing that the Delta variant will spread to all European countries, in the last few days there has been a sharp spike in the cases in Greece though they are still extremely few.

The National Public Health Organisation (EODY) announced today that there are 18 confirmed Delta variant cases in Greece. Yesterday, the health ministry had announced 11 cases.

Cases of Indian variant over double

Of the 18 cases 15 were located in Crete, one in the Region of Western Athens, one in the Region of Thessaloniki, and one at Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport.

Although the number of cases is considered small, about a dozen contacts are being closely reviewed by experts and are of concern.

In a prior announcement EODY had confirmed 11 cases of the Delta variant.

The 18 new cases registered today brings the total to 29.

Focus on Crete

The sharp spike in the number of cases in Greece was discussed in a conference today at the Civil Protection Bureau between on the one hand Deputy Minister Nikos Hardalias, Epidemiology Professor Sotiris Tsiodras, Deputy Minister to the PM Akis Skertsos, and Deputy Interior Minister Theodoros Livanios, and on the other the regional prefect and mayors of Crete.

The officials reportedly discussed the island’s epidemiological profile and the course of the vaccine rollout, as 15 of the confirmed Delta variant cases had not been vaccinated.

Full vaccination the strongest shield

Professor Sotiris Tsiodras, the health ministry’s chief epidemiologist, expressed heightened concerns during the meeting due to the projection of the ECDC that by the end of August the Delta variant will account for a whopping 90 percent of cases in Europe.

It was immediately unclear whether any of the confirmed cases in Greece involved the possible even more transmissible Delta-plus version.

Both Tsiodras and Hardalias stressed that vaccination is society’s most potent shield against the Delta variant.

It was decided at the meeting that the government will increase the number of vaccination appointment lines for the island of Crete in a bid to expedite the rollout.

Officials stressed that it is crucial for people who have been administered their first dose to make sure to have their second jab for the most complete coverage.

It was also agreed to intensify and expedite contact tracing of new confirmed cases to avert the spread of the variant on the island.