"The epidemiological situation in Greece, as in most European countries, is continuing to worsen due to seasonality but also the existence of populations without immunity," government spokesperson Yiannis Economou said on Monday, during the regular press briefing.
As a result, he said, the national health system was under strong pressure even though it had been significantly reinforced in the last 18 months, while he noted that on both a European and a national level, the increase in Covid-19 cases was inversely proportional to the vaccination rate in each area.
"In our country, the biggest increase in cases and hospital admissions is in areas of northern Greece, which also have the lowest vaccination coverage. At the same time, the data given daily by hospitals show that nine in 10 of our fellow citizens that are admitted to ICUs are unvaccinated. This confirms the research conducted both in our country and abroad, which prove that the only safe and effective defence against the lethal pandemic is vaccination," Economou said.
The spokesperson said that there were 149,000 new appointments to get the vaccination in the first week of November, with the numbers progressively increasing in the wake of new restrictions that mainly target the unvaccinated, which started to be imposed on Saturday.
He also noted that the platform to book booster shots had opened for all people over 18, provided that six months have elapsed since their second shot of the vaccine, or two months if they got the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Economou rejected opposition criticism and noted that more had been done to improve and upgrade the national health system in the space of a few weeks under the present government than in decades under previous governments.
Given that it was still unclear when the virus will be placed under control on a global basis, he added, "those fantasising a locked down society are doing a very bad service to the country and undermining the dignity of people at a time when vaccination has made progress and we now have notable medical capabilities," he added.
He said the pandemic had arrived at a time when Greece's national health system had been weakened by the inaction of the previous government, at which time the government had imposed a general lockdown to control its spread and been a leader in systems to track and trace cases.
It had also doubled ICUs and hired roughly 12,000 healthcare staff, making use of donations and including private health facilities in a common plan.
Upon the development of a vaccine, Greece had adopted a position supporting a European programme for its supply, organised a very efficient vaccination programme and taken the lead in establishing a European digital Covid certificate, among others, he said.
He also highlighted the distribution of millions of free self-tests, which 300,000 tests carried out in Greece daily to detect cases.
Economou said the Greek government had been among the first to realise that the approach to the pandemic could not be "strictly medical" and launched a public information campaign to reach the public and launched a sweeping digitalisation of public services to help prevent the transmission of the virus.
He noted that the loss of life would have been much lower if Greek citizens had more extensively embraced vaccination and will be lower if more people could be persuaded to get vaccinated and follow protection measures.
"The government is following a measured and balancing strategy: an open economy and society, because this is what common sense mandates and what the majority want. At the same time, an effort to expand vaccination coverage and restrict the losses of our fellow human beings," he said.
Economou emphasised that the government, in spite of the global crises and challenges, was proceeding to make bold reforms and initiating progressive actions for a green transition, so that Greece does not lag behind in the global productive transformation and becomes a leading force in the transition to the new model.
This included the phasing out of lignite, paving the way for more investment in renewable energy and a gradual transition to electromobility. He pointed to the GR-eco islands initiative that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis recently launched on the island of Halki as an example, as well the recent agreement to transfer clean energy from Egypt and bold environmental reforms like the country's first-ever climate law, a new RES framework, changes to the authority for hydrocarbon management, and the 2021-2025 cyclical economy plan.