Greece makes vaccination plans, urges patience as COVID cases rise

FILE PHOTO: Greek Health Minister Kikilias during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Athens

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece plans to set up more than 1,000 vaccination centres as it awaits a successful vaccine against COVID-19, its health minister said on Wednesday.

Announcements over the last two weeks that two vaccines were effective in trials have raised hope that COVID-19, which has infected 54 million people worldwide and killed 1.3 million, will be largely defeated over the coming year.

Greece has seen an aggressive spike in novel coronavirus cases since early October that forced it to impose a nationwide lockdown, the second since the pandemic broke out.

“Just a little bit more patience, let’s hang on together, united,” Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said as he detailed the country’s immunization programme.

Greece will get vaccine doses under an EU plan. The country expects the first deliveries in early 2021, the government has said.

Kikilias said about two million Greeks will be vaccinated monthly once Greece gets the shots. Doctors, nurses and medical staff will have a priority, while those aged above 65 years will follow.

The health system is still under enormous pressure despite the three-week lockdown, which officially ends at the end of November, Kikilias said.

Greece registered 3,209 new cases on Thursday and 60 deaths, its second highest record. The latest figure brings the total in the country to 82,034 infections since the first case surfaced in February and the death toll to 1,288.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou and Michele Kambas; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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