The government’s new measures, introduced in a bid to contain the spread of Covid 19, were targeted, but did not deliberately intend to upset society or the economy, coronavirus advisory team head Constantinos Tsioutis said on Thursday amid a flurry of complaints from business owners.
He added that the measures, decided during an emergency meeting on Wednesday afternoon, will be re-examined next week and might even be further tightened.
The head of the advisory team said that surpassing 3,000 daily cases has sounded the alarm for officials, as it showed the situation needs to be re-evaluated as new data comes in.
Tsioutis reminded of the time elapsing between infections and hospitalisations, meaning that the impact on hospitals will become more apparent in the coming days as the high numbers might potentially translate into hospitalisations later on.
He explained that so far, about 3-4 per cent of hospital admissions could be attributed to the Delta variant, but this was with a daily case number of almost 1,000.
“Now with 3,000 cases, and the potential for even higher numbers, these correlations are changing”.
However, he added it might be too early to know Omicron’s true impact as studies have shown it causes much milder symptoms despite the high infection rate.
“I’m estimating that the variant has not yet reached our hospitals, which is why we need a few more days to see how it will affect our healthcare system”.
Tsioutis once again reiterated the importance of keeping to personal protection measures like masks, frequent testing and self-isolation in case of symptoms, also calling on the public to limit their contacts and social gatherings as the virus is spreading rapidly.
“As its reach is now very wide, it becomes easier for us to be exposed to the virus,” he said, repeating calls for personal responsibility in the face of an infectious disease.
He also said that key transmission chains were tracked to hospitality venues – which explains the tightening of measures in places like restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
Most of the recent cases are younger people between 20 and 40 years old, who probably unknowingly spread the virus after going out with little to no symptoms, given the variant’s mildness, he said.
“The virus was most probably detected too late, after they had already passed it on to others”.
Tsioutis finally suggested members of the public repeat their rapid tests and self-isolate as soon as they develop any symptoms, as studies have shown that symptomatic vaccinated individuals can test negative for the first few days of infection.
“This calls for frequent testing, and might even require a PCR referral from our personal doctor,” he finally said.