COVID-19: CAN WE TAKE 2 MORE YEARS?
(Note: This blog posting is not meant to be a “news story,” as information concerning Cov
id-19 changes rapidly – practically by the hour. This posting is based on information at the time of its writing and is intended to point out the author’s concern. Crete, where I live, was one of the safest places on the planet, while the virus was hitting many other areas. Now, as I’m writing this) I was just informed that Greece and Its islands experienced the largest increase in Covid-19 cases ever.)
As the dreaded Covid-19 virus continues its deadly attack in Europe, as well as other parts of the world, health officials are telling us we can expect two more years of wearing face masks and trying to keep people from entering our personal bubble.
But, as long as we have totally irresponsible people, those “two years” may be more deadly than ever, according to WHO officials, expressing dismay over the sharp increases in reported cases throughout the continent, including, of course, Greece, both on the mainland and its islands, including Crete. In August alone, Italy registered 845 new cases in just one day, its highest daily tally since last May, while France, continuing to ignore warnings by holding street parties, reported 4,700 fresh infections. Spain’s increases topped even those of France, and Germany is still trying to get complete numbers while examining its own resurgence.
These figures added urgency to the desperate bid to find a vaccine for the virus, which has infected more than 22 million and killed hundreds of thousands since it first emerged in China late last year. Russia announced on Thursday it was pushing forward with testing on more than 40,000 people of its candidate drug, known as Sputnik V, which has already been hailed by Russian officials as a success even as experts questioned the rigor of the testing regime
In Greece, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection & Crisis Management, Nikos Hardalias recently announced stricter emergency measures. For example, now visitors coming from Malta are required to show proof of a Covid-19 negative molecular test (PCR) taken up to 72 hours prior to arriving in Greece. Meanwhile, early this month Greece reported 151 new coronavirus cases in a 24-hour reporting period, of which 12 are from incoming travellers. It was the third day in a row where the daily cases were over 150. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed “We must reactivate our national vaccine, which is nothing more than our ‘philotimo’, and together we must follow the measures indicated by the experts and I am sure that if we do we will emerge victorious from this difficult battle as well.” And, as an attempt to encourage citizens to do the right thing, Mitsotakis has given local police increased power and has expanded its inspections.
A total of 2,042 violations have been confirmed in Greece since August 1, with an equal number of 150-euro fines. In the same time, 57 shops were shut by the police across the country, with 12 of these shut down on one day alone. Some 138 inspections were carried out at Greek islands: Milos (34), Santorini (5), Naxos (8), Kea (10), Paros (16), Mikonos (21), Andros (11), Tinos (16) and Syros (8). Seven violations concerning the wearing of face masks were confirmed: 4 at Kea, 1 at Paros and 2 at Milos. A Briton was arrested for throwing a party at a villa and a bar manager was arrested there on noise pollution charges. Two bars were shut down at Paros (fined 3,000 euros each) and one at Naxos (fined 10,000 euros), both due to overcrowding. Meanwhile, Traffic Police carried out face mask checks on, where 15 violations were confirmed (14 by bus passengers and one by a taxi driver) and an equal number of fines of 150 euros were issued. A total of 13,736 inspections were carried out throughout the country in August, confirming 298 violations for non-use of face masks and non-observance of social distancing, with an equal number of 150-euro fines issued.
In Crete, just two new infections were reported, which, according to officials, is due to both increased enforcement efforts and a greater effort by local shopkeepers and club owners to adhere to the regulations.
Many businesses, such as the Aquaworld Aquarium & Reptile Rescue Centre in Hersonissos, as well as the island’s many museums and archaeological sites, will not allow any visitors without a face mask, a rule which is strictly enforced.
In spite of all that has happened, Europe has suffered less harm than most other regions from the pandemic, which has hit the Americas harder than anywhere else. The United States continues to bear the brunt in health terms and is suffering grim economic fallout. The number of Americans filing claims for joblessness each week topped one million again in August. US officials said.
On the plus side, several drugs are approaching the mass-testing phase, and countries around the world have been pre-ordering many millions of doses. The EU said it had concluded talks with a German pharmaceutical firm to secure 225 million doses of a potential vaccine -- he the fourth such agreement the bloc has reached.
However, while a vaccine still remains elusive, governments are left trying to control the spread through social-distancing measures, quarantines, travel bans and restrictions on businesses. AND FACE MASKS.
And only two years to go! Maybe.