Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed the government’s gratitude on Wednesday to donors for their continuing support to the National Health System in the war against COVID-19, at an event here on the occasion of a new donation made by Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).
Greece won the first battle so far against the novel coronavirus as the state, private initiative, donors and citizens joined forces to address the challenge, but continues to strengthen its national health system welcoming more donations in order to be prepared for a possible second COVID-19 wave and other future challenges, Mitsotakis said in a speech in front of “Sotiria” hospital.
“Sotiria” is one of the 15 public hospitals across Greece which will share 174 intensive care unit (ICU) beds in new units to be constructed in the next six months, according to the timetable.
The donation is estimated at about 15 million euros (16.9 million United States dollars) and is only part of the multi-million donation the foundation will make in Greece and worldwide in the context of its Global Relief Initiative for the COVID-19 Pandemic announced in April.
“I would like to thank all those who stood by the side of the National Health System providing medical supplies, equipment which will be used in ICUs, important donations which reached 90 million euros,” Mitsotakis said.
The Health Ministry announced in May that the Greek state received donations worth about this sum for the battle against COVID-19 from at least 865 organizations, entities, companies, and individuals, but also countries like China.
The first significant load of medical supplies weighing some 18 tons arrived in Athens in March from China. They were donated by the Chinese government, enterprises and organizations.
Addressing Wednesday’s event, the prime minister stressed that the aid from donors was critical to fill gaps and secure the means to prevent the further spread of the virus and provide the best possible help to those infected.
“We knew at the beginning of the crisis that we had a very small number of beds in ICUs,” Mitsotakis said.
In January, Greece had 5.5 ICU beds per 100,000 people while the European Union (EU) average is 12 ICU beds per 100,000 people, he noted. Currently, Greece has 7 ICU beds per 100,000 people and by 2021, thanks to the new donation, will reach the EU average.
“(The coronavirus crisis) is an opportunity beyond the tragedy to unveil chronic shortcomings of the National Health System and correct them as soon as possible,” Mitsotakis added.
SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos said: “The Foundation responds to the need to ease and face the impact of COVID-19.”
In addition to the donations for the upgrade of infrastructure, the foundation allocated 7.2 million euros for an extra bonus to 4,700 medical, nursing and cleaning staff at hospitals for their front-line services during the first battle against the virus.
“A big thank you to all those who contributed to turning Greece into a global model today on how to handle this unprecedented pandemic successfully. I think that witnessing what has happened in other countries, you all have every reason to be proud because you saved many lives,” Mitsotakis stressed.
Greek authorities announced on Wednesday that 23 new COVID-19 cases have been registered since Tuesday nationwide, and no fatalities.
Greece has now 3,432 confirmed infections, including 192 deaths, since the first case was diagnosed on Feb. 26 in the country.
Nine patients were currently hospitalized in ICUs, while 119 people have been discharged from ICUs so far. (1 euro = 1.13 United States dollars)
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