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Coronavirus: scientific adviser says prepare for winter of Covid and flu

A government scientific adviser said on Tuesday the virus was not going to disappear in the coming months and outbreaks could easily become uncontrollable.

Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Infection Prevention and Control at the European University and specialist with training in infection control, Constantinos Tsioutis said people should continue to apply self-protection measures in the upcoming winter, noting that a new spike in cases might be registered during the colder months.

In addition to that, he said other seasonal viruses, like Influenza A, might reappear in the winter.

“We must be prepared and apply personal protection measures, which will help protect ourselves not just from coronavirus, but also from other seasonal viruses. Only that way we will be able to control a possible further outbreak,” he said.

Tsioutis said people will be getting the flu shot from their GPs through the General Healthcare System (GeSY) this year and that a specific vaccination programme prepared by the health ministry will be followed. He also added there will be more vaccines available this year compared to the last one.

However, Tsioutis also admitted it will be difficult for people to distinguish whether their symptoms might be linked to Covid-19 or to Influenza A.

“There are some clinical studies that show some small differences between the two viruses, but basically they are very similar in terms of clinical manifestation.

“That is why self-protection and social distancing will be more important than ever. We will arrive at a point when we will have a vaccine for coronavirus, but, until then, prevention is our most important weapon,” he said.

Tsioutis said the final protocol for schools has not been finalised yet, although the government’s epidemiological team is working to find a solution as soon as possible.

“When we reopened schools last May we saw that there was no increased incidence of the virus, so we are optimistic,” he said.

“At the same time, however, it is imperative that every family should start informing and educating their children, especially the younger ones, about what it means to keep their distance and to be generally careful in a crowded place, such as the school.”

Regarding the issue of the mask in schools and whether he believes there are other alternative ways to protect students from the virus besides its use, Tsioutis said that the mask is a complementary measure, noting that social distancing is more important and more effective.

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