"Massive testing and confinement are compulsory" Dr Konstantinos Nikitidis - Athens
"In Greece we ordered 5 tons of chloroquine at the very beginning of the pandemic".
COVID-19 hit Greece beginning of March, can you give us a quick update about the situation?
On 12 march our government already took protective measures, we only had 117 cases and unfortunately 1 death. Immediate shutdowns of schools, bars, archeological sites and soon after leisure facilities and hotels. Travelers coming from risky countries were automatically quartered in quarantine and in case the rules weren't respected a 5000 € fine was associated. The Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, advised by professor Tsiodras, set-up a real quick and efficient defense policy, more or less similar to what we can see in France in the cities of Nice or Marseille. Also we witnessed what happened in Italy : if we respond too late, the consequences are disastrous. Therefore we anticipated in order to contain the spread as much as possible. Stay Home, Save Lives, Save National Health System.
In the following diagram, we can see the impact of social distancing on the total number of people tested positive to COVID-19 when used early by countries, with approximatively the same number of inhabitants during a period starting from the 26 February up to the 5th of April, and that allows us to confirm social distancing is the best treatment at the moment.
What is your opinion regarding the South-Korean case study, and the efficiency of masks and tests to slow down the spread?
Having a precise picture of the situation is paramount. When you know that over 60% of the cases are asymptomatic but contagious, massive testing and confinement are compulsory. These measures slow down the spread and pinpoint the infectious outbreaks. Masks are a good tool as well. Better with than without them. They need to be sorted out because they don't all procure the same level of protection. We must also educate our citizens to adopt proper habits such as frequent hand washing and social distancing. These habits will take time to pick-up. For the people that are infected, they must be compulsory. We campaign thoroughly in that direction. In Greece, some newspapers integrate free masks to help equip the population.
Do you agree with Dr. Raoult's research and protocol using Chloroquine and Azythromicine?
In Greece, we ordered 5 tons of chloroquine at the very beginning of the pandemic. It is used today in hospitals and at home for the people. As for every treatment, there are contraindications that must be followed: an electrocardiogram doubled with a potassium level check is the proper protocol. Patients are followed and treated at home and we have excellent results. Professor Raoult's' works give us much hope in the battle against the COVID-19. The Sermo study shows that overall 6200 doctors worldwide consider chloroquine to be the most efficient treatment against this pandemic, out of 15 drug options HCQ voted the most effective treatment.
Do you think this pandemic will become a seasonal threat?
This virus is brand new. We need to gather more data about it but we must prepare for a long term struggle. Just as professor Raoult says, prevention by tests and masks associated with treatment as soon as the sickness outbreaks are our best options. Tomorrow we will have a vaccine and then the chapter will be much different
What about nutrition? Does it impact our immune system strength?
The reinforcement of the immune system is a good thing to face this virus. A study made by teams in the city of Torino observes a low rate of vitamin D for infected patients. Such as vitamin D, vitamins C and A are important. A good diet provides good immunity, it's an asset.
What would be your advice to all the people exposed to this virus?
First of all, keep calm and stay home. Avoid useless contact. Get tested and take the treatment that we advise in case of need. In this race against time, that is how you will all slow down the pandemic and allow our doctors and medical staff to gain time to treat you all and eventually find a vaccine. Last but not least, we have a thought for all those patients who suffer and all the medical staff of all the countries that make a wonderful job for the greater good. All these changes in our lives are significant, but they also reveal beautiful things as well: mutual assistance and sharing.