An expert of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens measures samples for coronavirus concentration level in Athens, Greece, on Nov. 19, 2020. Greek authorities announced on Saturday 108 deaths from COVID-19 within 24 hours, hitting a record high and pushing the death toll since the country registered its first infection on Feb. 26 to 1,527. (Photo by Lefteris Partsalis/Xinhua)
ATHENS, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Greek authorities announced on Saturday 108 deaths from COVID-19 within 24 hours, hitting a record high and pushing the death toll since the country registered its first infection on Feb. 26 to 1,527.
With 2,311 new cases reported by the National Public Health Organization since Friday, the total number of infections in Greece reached 90,121.
Since Nov. 7, the country has been in a full nationwide lockdown, which was scheduled to end on Nov. 30. But in the past few days, government officials have stated that it will probably be extended, as experts do not see a significant decline in new cases yet.
PM HAILS VOLUNTEERS
Amidst the gloom, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hailed earlier on Saturday a beam of hope given by 18 nurses (17 women and one man) from all over Greece who volunteered to offer their services at two public hospitals in Thessaloniki.
The city of 1.1 million people in northern Greece has the highest numbers of daily cases for weeks, and many patients are hospitalized, testing the limits of the healthcare system and health workers.
During a teleconference the prime minister thanked them on behalf of the government and Greek people, stressing that they have inspired a new wave of volunteerism during the second wave of the pandemic.
"This is not only an act of kindness but also a deeply patriotic gesture. I would like to thank on the occasion the professionals and volunteers at the frontline of the battle," he said, according to an e-mailed press statement issued from his office.
In Thessaloniki, officials are prepared for the worse, hoping for the better.
"We have reached the point of burying 6 people per day who are dying of COVID-19. Fatalities due to other reasons have also increased because many patients are afraid to go to hospitals," George Avarlis, Deputy Mayor of Thessaloniki, told local media on Friday in front of a cemetery.
ENCOURAGING SIGNS IN SEWAGE
Meanwhile, scientists analyzing for months the sewage in Athens and Thessaloniki have said that they see encouraging signs since Wednesday.
Over the past ten days, a team of experts led by Nikolaos Thomaidis, Professor of Analytical Chemistry at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, have found that the concentration of coronavirus in the samples collected in Athens was down by some 50 percent compared to earlier this month, according to in.gr news site.
A similar finding was reported by experts of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. After testing waste samples on Nov. 18, they measured a decline of 25 percent in virus concentration compared to the ones taken on Nov. 16, Theodoros Karapantsios, Professor of Chemistry, told Greek national news agency AMNA on Friday evening.