ATHENS COVID-19 UPDATE
This information refers to anyone who have scheduled or are considering scheduling their orthopaedic treatment, including limb lengthening and knee replacement, in Athens after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide.
Since December 2019 the humankind has gradually entered in what we named “COVID-19 Era”.
The term refers to the time period from the introduction of Coronavirus in our lives until the time that COVID-19 disease becomes permanently controlled or endemic like any other influenza virus (i.e with vaccination and development of population immunity).
A readily available vaccine is not anticipated earlier than the second half of 2021, i.e. summer or Autumn 2021. Until that time, national, regional or global flares (waves) of the pandemic are anticipated.
This means that Coronavirus is here to stay for the foreseeable future! Until a vaccine is available, it will be affecting our social, professional and personal life worldwide. Traveling may be subject to restrictions periodically. According to current mathematical models, a 2nd wave of COVID-19 pandemic worldwide( and in Greece) is more likely to occur in the second half of October 2020 or later.
The first pandemic wave caught humanity by surprise but is now coming to its end, at least in southern Europe. Greece has responded efficiently to this pandemic wave with early implementation of curfew, lockdown and strategic increase of needed supplies in human and material resources. Thanks to these measures, the Greek national health system never faced shortage of ventilator or ICU bed capacity and dramatic ventilator triage of patients in need was never required.
During the 1st phase, Athens BJR focused on:
- Adapting to the imposed governmental restrictions while continuing to provide rehabilitation and follow-up appointments in a safe and efficient way to our patients in Athens.
- Timely evacuating patients in Athens who fulfilled the set pre-requisites to safely continue lengthening and recovery at their own countries.
- Keeping scheduled patients informed about the progression of COVID-19 in Greece, so that are ready to come to Greece the earliest possible.
Starting from the 4th May, Greece is entering the 2nd phase; of easing the restrictions and gradually returning to a “new” normality of social and professional activities. The situation will be closely monitored and, depending on the COVID-19 spread, there may always be a return to stricter measures or a continuation of easing the restrictions.
Entering this 2nd phase, at Athens BJR:
- We have accumulated an experience and understanding on the management of the needs of our patients in COVID-19 pandemic conditions and how the Greek state is going to respond to future waves of COVID-19 pandemic.
- We are confident that Greece and Athens Bone & Joint Reconstruction Centre, remain one of the safest places in the world to have your orthopaedic treatment.
- Based on this experience and the available data, we suggest:
- If your symptoms are manageable and your personal or professional circumstances allow for the postponement of your treatment until after a COVID-19 vaccine is available, you can consider delaying your treatment to avoid unnecessary risks of exposure to Coronavirus.
- If your symptoms or circumstances require you to receive treatment earlier than above, we advise you to schedule your treatment for the warmer months of the year in Greece (May, June, July, August and September, 2020 and 2021) . The increased temperature and the closure of schools for the summer is expected to make the spread of Coronavirous less likely. In addition, according to current mathematical models, a second wave of COVID-19 pandemic worldwide( and in Greece) is less likely to happen earlier than October 2020 or later.
- If your symptoms or circumstances necessitate that you schedule your treatment between October 2020 and April 2021, please contact Athens BJR as soon as possible to allow us to customize your treatment plan according to you specific condition, needs and circumstances (especially with regards to travelling, length of stay and repatriation protocol). Athens BJR is ready to provide safe, efficient and comfortable treatments even during pandemic waves but small delays may occur due to temporary lockdown of operating rooms for elective cases in all hospitals in Greece.
Travel restrictions/Essential travel
If you are a citizen of UK/EU/EEA/Schenghen member state (or if you are a third country citizen with residency status in one of the above countries) your traveling to Greece is not restricted.
If you are none of the above, you will need to apply for approval of entry to Greece for personal reasons (medical treatment) at the nearest Greek consulate. This application is additional to the visa application (if a visa is required for your citizenship to enter Greece).
This restriction will be reviewed/updated on the 15th May 2020.
Entering Greece. COVID-19 testing and 14-day self-isolation.
At the moment, every person who enters Greece, regardless of their origin and citizenship, is subjected to COVID-19 testing at the airport and then they are directly transferred to 3- and 4- star hotels for self-isolation until the results are available (on the same or next day). The transfer, hotel stay and meals are paid by the Greek government. If the COVID-19 test is positive, the patient must stay at the hotel for 14 days under regular medical care. If your condition requires hospital treatment, you will be transferred to a dedicated COVID-19 referral hospital in Athens. Dr Giotikas or a doctor of Athens BJR will contact your treating doctors.
If the test is negative, the individual can either remain at the hotel or go to their accommodation and self-isolate there for 14 days. The Greek government offers optional, free, full board accommodation at four-star hotels (like Coral Hotel, Stanley Hotel, or similar) for the compulsory 14 day self-isolation period. So, if you prefer, you can remain at the hotel that you were transferred to for the whole self-isolation period, even if your COVID-19 test is negative.
The current order expires on the 15th May, but it is likely that it will be renewed again and again until the end of June or later. This measure may be modified or re-implemented from time to time according to the situation of the Covid-19 spread.
We have organized a dedicated service to support our patients during their self-isolation period, either at the hotels or at their own apartments.
If you are participating in the i-press study, you will initiate your pre-habilitation program during your self-isolation period. If not, you will just continue with the standard pre-op exercising program.
What if I have symptoms of chest infection during my stay in Athens, after my initial self-solation period or at any point during my treatment.
You must immediately contact Athens BJR and discuss your symptoms.
Depending on your condition, you will come or be transferred to Mediterraneo hospital and have a COVID-19 test.
If COVID-19 is confirmed, and you don’t need hospital admission you will return to your accommodation for 14days self-isolation. You will receive specific instructions on how to monitor your condition and there will be regular medical care. Physiotherapy will consist of home exercises with online guidance from the physio team for 14 days. Limb lengthening can continue as normally.
Our support service will contact you/visit you daily to provide supplies.
If the test is positive, and you need routine hospital admission you will be transferred to a dedicated COVID-19 referral hospital in Athens, as per national instructions. If you need emergency admission, you will be admitted to the COVID department of Mediterraneo Hospital.
If your COVID-19 test is negative, your condition will be assessed and managed accordingly at Mediterraneo hospital.
How is my treatment going to be affected in case of public restrictions/curfew:
- Some consultations with Dr Giotikas may be done online.
- Some physiotherapy sessions may be converted to program at home with online physio guidance.
- You may not be allowed to do sight-seeing or visit other places in Athens or the rest of Greece.
What if I am admitted to Intensive Care Unit/Ventilator.
We will inform your named “Next of kin” person.
We will not disclose the nature of your treatment in Athens to unauthorized persons or parties (i.e family members, friends etc)
Limb lengthening will be completely paused until you are discharged back to ward.
What if I need urgent surgery or treatment for another condition (Non COVID-19)?
Operating rooms and other treatment facilities are always open for urgent cases irrespective of the COVID-19 situation.
- For regular updates, please always visit https://www.athensbjr.com/blog-news/ and https://eody.gov.gr/en/
- If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments below or in our “Contact us” page.