The coordinator-director of the Second ICU at Thessaloniki’s large Papanikolaou Hospital has proposed more drastic public health measures – including the temporary closure of schools – to handle the current surge in the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in northern Greece.

Kapravelos also referred to the government’s decision to make vaccination compulsory for those age 60 and over.

The government took the unprecedented measure of imposing a fine of 100 euros a month on citizens who are 60-years-old or over who have not been vaccinated or who have not made an appointment to do so by 16 January.

“Those who work in hospital ICUs and epidemiologists do not have the same vantage point. For us, it is a relief to see an extension of compulsory vaccination. It contributes to checking the pandemic. The numbers are high. We expect a spike in hospitalisation and a rise in the number of deaths,” Kapravelos told MEGA television.

“More measures are needed because there is a high number of infections. I can mention the story of the daughter of a [COVID-19] patient who told me, “Doctor, I would give all my possessions if I could turn back time and persuade my mother to be vaccinated.”

More measures beyond compulsory vaccination?

“Drastic measures are needed. The wearing of masks should be made compulsory outdoors even for vaccinated individuals,” Kapravelos said.

“At athletics stadiums public health measures must be enforced, crowding must be forbidden, and schools should be shut down for a limited period. Moreover, compulsory vaccination should be extended to include, for example, the entire civil service.”

“The new [Omicron] variant is extremely transmissible and we must be ready and prepared, otherwise we shall be confronted with yet another human tragedy,” Kapravelos said.