The first batch of medical supplies and protection gear for state hospitals from China will arrive in the island on Saturday, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Monday.
In response to criticism over lack of protective equipment and other indispensable materials in state hospitals, the minister said there is enough for the next few days.
He said the government had made timely inquiries into purchasing the necessary items but there was shortage due to the global demand.
“I am however pleased to announce that our persistent efforts have paid off,” he said, adding that the first batch of supplies ordered from China will arrive on Saturday on a special flight by Aegean Air.
Ioannou said that this first batch will be enough to cover needs while additional quantities have been ordered and can be flown in with a second chartered flight.
The minister said Aegean Air is transporting the supplies free of charge, in cooperation with Hellenic Petroleum (EKO) which has provided the fuel for the flight.
He thanked both companies but also China for donating part of the supplies.
On the issue of medication, Ioannou said there is no approved treatment for Covid-19. He said that the Drugs’ Committee, which is the competent authority to approve protocols on the use of pharmaceuticals, has decided to activate procedures for the provision of adequate quantities of the drugs the experts have suggested for coronavirus.
“These medicines, which are already used to treat other chronic conditions, exist in sufficient quantities,” the minister said, without specifying which drugs.
He said more details on the pharmacies where these are available, would be given soon.
Last week, the health ministry announced that sufficient quantities of chloroquine, a malaria drug which may be useful for the treatment of the coronavirus, would be made available by a pharmaceutical company.
The minister also referred to the readiness of state hospitals to deal with more coronavirus cases.
“We are doing everything to shield our hospitals and health professionals,” Ioannou said
He reiterated that no hospital in any country is in a position to respond to mass cases and that is why members of the public are urged to first call their personal physician (GP) who will refer him or her to a state hospital if it is deemed necessary.
Ioannou said that two public health practices operate in each city to which persons with coronavirus symptoms are referred. Until their results are ready, they are admitted to a short-term treatment area in state hospitals to rule out the possibility of the virus spreading to the hospitals.
The minister said more would be announced on Tuesday.