Greece is ordering doctors from the private sector to help the country’s strained public health system handle escalating coronavirus infections.
The country’s health minister Vassilis Kikilias announced the decision after an appeal for private practice doctors to step forward was met with a weak response.
"For weeks, the Health Ministry has sent an invitation -- an appeal -- to private doctors to strengthen the hospitals … during the third major wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, very few private doctors came," Kikilias said.
"Taking into account the emergency conditions ... the Health Ministry is ordering the personal services of doctors in the specialties of physicians, pulmonologists and general practitioners," he said.
Greece is experiencing a surge in cases with hospitals in Athens bearing the brunt and intensive care wards running out of beds.
To alleviate pressure on the health system, the Greek government also announced that it will start distributing free self-testing kits in pharmacies from the first week of April. Anyone who wishes to be tested will be able to pick up one per week.
Despite a resurgence in cases, a number of outdoor archaeological spaces across Greece, including the Acropolis in Athens, have reopened to visitors. Greece last week announced the lifting of a number of Covid-19 restrictions, as part of a plan to gradually reopen ahead of the tourism season. The move was also to provide some outdoor “decompression” spaces for citizens after acknowledging that strict lockdown measures initially imposed in November are increasingly resulting in covid fatigue.
Hair and beauty salons reopened Monday and churches will have limited services in the build-up to Orthodox Easter.
On Sunday, Greek health authorities reported 1514 new coronavirus cases and 41 deaths, bringing total cases to 237,125 with 7,462 deaths.