The Greek prime minister’s decision to impose 100-euro monthly fines on unvaccinated over-60s appears to have had a dramatic effect; within hours of Kyriakos Mitsotakis announcing the measure about 6,000 people in the age group had requested appointments to get the jab.
The average inoculation rate among the over-60s had previously been 2,600 a day, according to media reports citing government statistics for those requesting a first jab. Penalties kick in from 16 January.
Infection rates in Greece have surged in recent months – along with fatalities.
Mitsotakis said he took the drastic step because it had become quite clear there were “needless deaths” among citizens in the age group.
An estimated 580,000 Greeks who are 60 or older remain unvaccinated. Of that number only 60,000 had elected to be inoculated in November when the government announced further restrictions for those still resisting the shot, Mitsotakis said in comments ahead of a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
“And it is primarily those over the age of 60 who are being hospitalised and unfortunately many are losing their lives,” he noted in a televised speech. “It has troubled me taking this decision but I have no doubt that it will help save human lives.”
Compared with other smaller European countries, such as
Denmark which has immunised 99% of the age group, Greece has seen a death rate that is 10 times greater. Out of a population of about 11 million, 18,157 people have succumbed to coronavirus.
Prior to the fine being announced the centre-right government had enforced twice-weekly rapid tests on those who remained unvaccinated at a cost of as much as 80 euro a month. For many Greeks that, combined with a 100 euro monthly penalty, would have made the price for the choice almost impossible to keep up with.
Mitsotakis also announced that free self-tests would be distributed in December and early January in a bid to root out asymptomatic carriers of the virus. The money raised from fines will be placed in a special fund created to support the increasingly stretched public health service, he said.
Source : https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2021/nov/30/covid-news-live-who-warns-omicron-poses-very-high-risk-new-variant-detected-in-at-least-a-dozen-countries?page=with:block-61a66cc28f08ab53167b7604366