Greece calls for health volunteers to help with coronavirus outbreak

Passengers wearing protective face masks make their way at the Athens International airport, following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease, in Athens, Greece, March 21, 2020. (Reuters)

Greece on Monday put out a call for health volunteers to help combat the spread of the coronavirus, a government official said.

There are 17 recorded deaths and 624 officially announced infections from the coronavirus in Greece, which has a population of 11 million.

“The volunteer program is addressed to whoever can offer services, such as doctors, medical staff, psychologists, medical students and retired health scientists,” acting government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni told reporters.

Administrative staff and technicians are also welcome, she said, adding that regional authorities will subsequently share out volunteers depending on local needs.

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Greece’s public health system has been drastically weakened by a decade of dwindling spending and staff cuts.

A quarter of national output was wiped out and official unemployment soared to nearly a third of the workforce during the 2010-2018 crisis, originally sparked by reckless state spending and misreporting of fiscal data to the EU.

Thousands of trained doctors emigrated during the crisis, most of them to Germany and Britain.

The union representing public hospital staff has also warned of a possible shortage in essential sanitary equipment, while other insiders say not enough people have access to test kits.

Officials last week said there are 120 beds available for coronavirus patients requiring emergency care, and that more beds are being added.

The government has also put out a call for 2,000 additional medical staff.

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Last Update: 14:19 KSA 17:19 - GMT 14:19
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