Greece Orders Private Doctors to Join COVID-19 Battle

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's health minister is requisitioning the services of private sector doctors from certain specialties in the wider Athens region to help fight a renewed surge in coronavirus infections that is straining hospitals to their limits.

Vassilis Kikilias said Monday that despite repeated appeals to private sector doctors to volunteer to help in the public sector, very few came forward. Therefore, he said, he was ordering those from the specialties of pathology, pneumonology and general medicine to help.

The requisition order is for one month for 206 doctors, health authorities said.

Greece has been experiencing a renewed surge of COVID-19 despite lockdown-related measures being in force since early November, with dozens of daily deaths recorded, as well as increasing numbers of patients hospitalized in intensive care units. About 500 people are hospitalized each day across the country with COVID-19, health authorities say, with 200 of them being in the wider Athens region.

On Sunday, Greece announced 1,514 new coronavirus cases and 41 new daily deaths, bringing the total confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic to 237,125, with 7,462 deaths in this country of around 11 million people.

Despite the surging numbers, authorities have announced a slight relaxation of lockdown measures, with hairdressers, nail salons and open-air archaeological sites reopening as of Monday morning. Amateur fishing, which had also been banned, is also being allowed for those living in coastal areas, as access to the sea is allowed only on foot or bicycle.