The coronavirus on Crete and current developments.
Information on the virus, its spread to date and events in Greece and Crete.
The virus is only a few months old, but in the meantime it has all of our lives fully under control.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain, which was not known in humans before. Coronaviruses can also be transmitted from animals (but not pets) to humans. More detailed investigations showed that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses occur in animals that have not yet infected humans. Especially the resident bats in Asia, which live under unhygienic and cramped conditions, are the carriers of some particularly dangerous pathogens.
The virus has probably already appeared in November 2019 in the Chinese province of Hubei and was probably spread at a fish market by live traded animals in the big city of Wuhan. The often shocking handling of numerous animals in China, inadequate animal protection laws and lack of hygiene made this all the more possible. More repulsive examples of this can be found time and again on the Internet.
A Chinese doctor, who in the meantime died of the virus, first warned of the new virus on 30 December 2019 and one day later the People’s Republic of China reported it to the WHO.
By 21 January 2020, the number of newly diagnosed cases exploded and two days later Wuhan was isolated. One day later, fifteen more cities in Hubei province were quarantined.
The complete and detailed procedure is described here.
The virus, introduced by a Chinese employee of an automotive supplier, first appeared in Germany at the end of January 2020.
In Europe, Italy has so far been hardest hit, where the first death occurred on 22 February 2020. Despite extensive analyses, the person responsible for the worst outbreak in Europe has not yet been identified. However, the Italian genetic structure of the virus is similar to one of the infections that occurred in Germany in January. It most likely originates from a person who was infected in Munich between 19 and 22 January through a contact from Shanghai. Therefore, the Italian outbreak probably started between 25 and 26 January, long before the first Italian patient was diagnosed with it.
Nevertheless, direct-flights from China to Germany and Munich were still permitted in February 2020, even though the coronavirus, its rapid spread and high mortality, was known at that time.
The German authorities were therefore relying solely on information and personal responsibility on the part of those entering the country in order not to disrupt business with China!
Where this can lead to can be seen at present in the example of Italy. It is doubtful whether such close economic ties with a communist regime, which sacrifices animal protection and hygiene to economic expansion in addition to other human rights violations, can be worth the sacrifices and economic damage that are currently already foreseeable and which must be made in favor of questionable economic benefits under such circumstances.
It is also worth noting that, in addition to SARS and MERS, plague epidemics have also come from East Asia. Of the major pandemics, only the Spanish flu did not originate in this region, although the coronavirus is currently threatening to displace it from the ‘third place’ of the greatest disasters in human history.
If one takes the current mortality rate in Italy, a western country with good health care, as a basis, this results in 6.8 percent based on all cases – or even 42 percent based on completed cases (March 14, 2020).
Currently, politicians in some countries are trying to prepare society for the fact that between 60 and 70 percent of the population must be infected by the virus in order to achieve ‘herd’ immunity.
With an assumed world population of 7.5 billion people, an infection rate of 70 percent and a mortality rate of 6.8 percent, this currently results in about 357 million deaths worldwide.
Even with a conservative assumption of only 1 percent mortality this results 52.5 million victims, more than for the Spanish flu. This means that the coronavirus has the potential to become at least the third worst pandemic in human history, unless appropriate defensive and precautionary measures are taken early on.
Since it is also a novel, unknown virus, there is still no reliable information about late effects, possible immunity, mutations and transmission paths.
In difference to most other countries, Greece was able to stop, contain and almost eradicate the spread of the virus by the end of April by an exemplary rapid response.
The main differences between the coronavirus and influenza are:
The death rate for COVID-19 is about 10 to 20 times higher than for the flu. It is probably 1.7% to 4% for COVID-19 and 0.1% to 0.2% for influenza.
The serious and critical cases are about ten times larger; i.e. for COVID-19 they amount to 15% to 20% and 5% require intensive medical care. In the case of influenza, only about 1.5% of patients need to be admitted to hospital.
The spread of COVID-19 is faster because one person infects about three times as many other people as with the flu. In the case of coronavirus, one person infects two to four other people at a time, whereas in the case of influenza only 1.3 people are infected.
Without isolation, COVID-19 spreads exponentially twice as fast, i.e. the number of people infected doubles approximately every three days. With the flu, 7 days are needed.
The incubation period, i.e. the period before symptoms of the disease are visible, is two to 14 days, with outliers lasting up to 27 days and the average being 5.5 days. In the case of influenza, the period is two days and infection can only occur one day before symptoms are detected.
Both the coronavirus and the influenza viruses can probably be transmitted through the air over more than two to three meters.
The coronavirus survives up to 9 days on hard surfaces, the influenza virus only one day.
People infected with the coronavirus can infect other people for at least two weeks, whereas with the flu it is only one week.
Common signs of infection are respiratory problems, fever, cough, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Permanent damage to the lungs is also possible.
February 26, 2020:
On this day the coronavirus was detected for the first time in a woman in Thessaloniki, Greece, who had previously visited Northern Italy.
February 27, 2020:
The next day, the son of the 38-year-old woman from Thessaloniki was also tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the primary school that the child attended was closed for 14 days. Furthermore, a woman in Athens, who had previously also visited Northern Italy, tested positive.
As an additional measure, the government cancelled the upcoming carnival celebrations. Despite a ban, they were nevertheless held in Patras and Rethymno.
February 28, 2020:
A fourth woman, who had also previously visited Northern Italy, tested positive for the coronavirus in Athens.
As a preventive measure, three schools in the suburbs of Athens will be closed.
March 1, 2020:
Three more people, two of whom were related to previous cases and one who had also recently visited Northern Italy, tested positive. All cases are limited to Thessaloniki and Athens and the total number is now seven persons.
March 4, 2020:
Another person has become infected through contact with a previously ill person, bringing the total to eight confirmed corona cases.
March 5, 2020:
The total number of cases rises to ten due to an infected couple in the western part of the Peloponnese. They had returned from a group trip from Egypt and Israel at the end of February.
March 6, 2020:
This Thursday, the number of Corona cases in Greece jumped to 31, due to the fact that 21 other members of the group who had visited Egypt and Israel on a pilgrimage had also become infected. Most of these people also came from the western part of the Peloponnese.
The Ministry of Health announces that in the current year about five to ten percent of the population will become infected with the coronavirus, compared to 15 percent with the flu. In addition, the symptoms would be mostly mild.
March 7, 2020:
This Saturday 21 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total number of corona infected in Greece to 66. Of these, 47 were from the travel group that had visited Israel and Egypt, and four were from their direct contacts.
March 9, 2020:
73 confirmed cases of corona in Greece. The Ministry of Health decided to close the senior citizens’ meeting places and ban congresses. School trips abroad are cancelled and sporting events are held with the exclusion of spectators.
March 11, 2020:
In Greece, schools will be closed due to coronavirus.
March 12, 2020:
First case of corona in Crete: a person who had visited Athens a few days earlier tests positive for corona virus in the hospital of Heraklion.
First corona death in Greece: The death of a 66-year-old man from corona virus in the hospital of Patras last night is announced.
Another patient was in intensive care in the same hospital, 29 more in hospitals in Thessaloniki, Patras, Mytilini and Attica. 68 infected people are in domestic quarantine.
Only emergencies are accepted in the hospitals.
March 13, 2020:
117 corona cases across Greece, including three in Crete. The last case is a German professor of chemistry, who visited a study seminar.
The courts, theatre, cinema, fitness studios, children’s playgrounds and nightclubs are closed. Museums and archaeological sites are also affected by the closure.
By the evening the number of infected people in Greece rises to 190 and the government also decides to close shopping centres, cafes, bars and restaurants from the next day.
In the hotel industry, uncertainty is spreading as to whether hotels should be opened at all during the season, as the Greek health system can hardly deal with additional corona cases among tourists and a hotel quarantine would entail considerable costs.
March 14, 2020:
Two more deaths and a total of 228 corona cases in Greece.
March 15, 2020:
103 new cases and one more death, for a total of 331 corona cases and 4 deaths in Greece.
Already during the day the beaches were closed and the surveillance of supermarkets was announced for next Monday, so that not too many people are shopping at the same time. Shortly afterwards it was announced that all hotels, apartments etc. would be closed for the time being at least until 30 April.
In the afternoon it was announced that the national borders would be closed and that ferry services to Italy and Turkey would be suspended. Also all flights to Spain, as before to Italy, will be stopped.