Greek government changes definition of COVID deaths in response to surge of disease

By John Vassilopoulos

A record number of summertime COVID deaths have been recorded in Greece since the beginning of July. A total of 1,145 deaths were recorded by the end of that month, over four times more than the number of people who died during the same period last year.

According to National Organisation for Public Health (EODY) figures, August will surpass the COVID death tally recorded during the same month last year. In the first two weeks of this month, 651 people died from the virus compared to a total of 726 deaths in the whole of August 2021.

Greece has had one of the highest numbers of new deaths per capita in the world in recent weeks, surpassed only by Barbados, the Marshall Islands and Norway. All three, particularly Barbados and the Marshall Islands, have much smaller populations than Greece.

Opposed to re-introducing measures to contain the spread of the virus, the conservative New Democracy (ND) government blames the high number of deaths on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of deaths due to COVID-19, which ND now plans to ditch. The move was announced by Health Minister Thanos Plevris on August 8 in an interview with Open TV: “From now on when we report the number of deaths we will state how many died from COVID and how many died from another cause who had COVID.” On this basis, he claimed, “We did not therefore have a rise in deaths”.

As of August 14, the number of people killed by the virus in Greece stands at 32,028. The total number of recorded infections is 4,654,737—equivalent to 45 percent of the country’s population—with a fifth of those being re-infections.

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