Two private clinics appropriated to treat COVID-19 in Greece

ATHENS (AP) — Greek authorities are taking over two private health clinics and their staff in northern Greece as the region’s public hospitals are under severe pressure from a surge in coronavirus cases over the past few weeks, the country’s Health Ministry said yesterday.

The ministry said it requested beds in private hospitals be made available to the public health system for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, but that “despite the effort, the finding of a mutually acceptable solution was not possible”.

The ministry said it was forcibly appropriating the two clinics and their staff in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest urban centre which is at the centre of spiralling cases.

“In the prefecture of Thessaloniki and after the very heavy epidemiological burden that is testing the limits of hospitals as well as of staff, it was deemed necessary to operate simple COVID-19 beds in private clinics,” the ministry said.

Greece largely escaped the initial outbreak of coronavirus in the spring, with the government imposing an early lockdown that was credited with keeping the numbers of infections and deaths low.

But it has seen a major resurgence of the virus after the summer, leading to dozens of deaths each day and thousands of new infections. Nearly 500 people are intubated in intensive care units across the country.

According to the latest figures issued on Thursday evening, there were over 85,200 confirmed coronavirus cases and a total of nearly 1,350 deaths in this country of about 11 million people.

A nationwide lockdown has been imposed until the end of the month, with retail stores, schools, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues shut and a 9pm to 5am curfew in place.