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Health experts warn: 9 people at holiday table can be a super-spread event

Health experts in Greece warn that family gatherings up to nine people on Christmas and New Year will most likely turn into a superspread coronavirus event. They call on people to either remain within the family or wear masks. At the same time they call on the government to review the decision to allow such gatherings with two families. The government is considering tougher lockdown restrictions locally, government spokesman said on Thursday.

“The nine-person limit could be revoked if things get worse,” Athens University microbiology professor Alkiviadis Vatopoulos, who sits on the committee advising the Greek government on its handling of the pandemic, told Skai television on Thursday.

“The situation is unpredictable,” he said.

In the same wave length spoke also Μatina Pagoni, president of the Hospital Doctors Association in Attica.

Speaking to ERT TV she said she strongly disagreed with the number of 9 people at the holiday table, because the virus is very easily transmitted within the family.

“Only the family of members will sit at the table to dine. Otherwise I am afraid that there will be a transmission for sure, because if there is an asymptomatic person from the other family, everyone can get infected.”

“When you sit at a table you will not have a distance of more than 2 meters to eat and there will be no masks,” she added.

Pagoni is also against the opening of churches to believers on Christmas and New Year’s Day as well as on Epiphany, January 6.

However, the government does not plan to make any changes. Government spokesman Stelios Petsas merely urged citizens to keep the holiday table as small as possible and to be with the same people both on Christmas and New Year..

Speaking at the live briefing on Thursday, Petsas said that there are currently 12,975 active cases across the country reduced by 15.8% compared to previous week, 2,340 covid-19 related hospitalizations reduced by 39%. The 7-day average of daily infections was 1,196 reduced by 21%, while the test positivity fell to 4.5% from 6.4% on December 9.

Hospital admissions decreased by 20% and discharges increased by 26%.

Petsas said that the above mentioned data show that there is progress in the desired direction, whoever, this was very slow.

He warned though that at local level -Kozani and western Attica – the situation was worrying. He added that there were a lot of infections per 100,000 people in the  Prefectures of Kilkis, Xanthi, Pieria, Drama, Thessaloniki, Kozani, Rodopi, Grevena, Pella and Larissa.

“It is therefore possible that in areas with deteriorating trends  stricter measures may be in place, the committee of experts is already examining the data in such areas and will then make a recommendation to the government, Petsas said.

He added that the tougher restrictions may be announced even later on Thursday.

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