Greek health staff demand more medical workers for overwhelmed hospitals

Second wave of virus puts Greece under pressure as intensive care beds fill up

Medical workers wearing protective face masks take part in a protest outside a hospital, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in Athens, Greece, November 12, 2020. The placard reads 'Covered mouths have voice'. REUTERS/Costas Baltas
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Greek hospital workers held a protest on Thursday, calling for more medical staff to be hired as the country struggles with a second Covid-19 wave that is putting the health system under strain.

Greece has 1,104 intensive care beds, 496 which are set aside for Covid-19 patients. Of those, 335 were occupied as of Wednesday night.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the number of intensive care beds had been increased in 2020, with the government saying Greece had just over 500 when it came to power in mid-2019.

“Every humanly possible effort was made so that we can, in the intervening time between the first wave and where we are today, reinforce the ICUs with beds and personnel,” Mr Mitsotakis told the Greek Parliament on Thursday.

“Whatever was humanly possible to be done has been done and continues to be done."

But he said it was important to stop the virus spreading in the first place so there would be less need for intensive care beds.

Young people “having fun” in Europe at the end of the first wave was a key reason Covid-19 cases had surged, Mr Mitsotakis said.

“I’m not saying this as criticism. Of course young people are more susceptible to such behaviour.

"But it’s an observation and it needs to be heard."

Greece has had more than 66,600 confirmed cases and more than 950 deaths.