Greece orders private sector doctors to assist against COVID-19

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FILE PHOTO: Intensive care unit at Sotiria hospital in Athens

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece has ordered private sector doctors in the broader Athens region to assist its public health system to fight a rise in new COVID-19 infections, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said on Monday.

The government had earlier called on private sector doctors to help out as Greece's public hospitals have been overwhelmed by surging COVID-19 infections and intensive care wards are running out of beds. It said about 200 doctors were needed.

"For weeks, the Health Ministry addressed an invitation - an appeal - to private doctors, to strengthen the hospitals of the National Health Service during the third major wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, very few private doctors came," Kikilias said.

"Taking into account the emergency conditions ... the Health Ministry is ordering the personal services of doctors in the specialties of physicians, pulmonologists and general practitioners," he said.

Greece reported 1,514 new coronavirus infections and 41 deaths on Sunday, bringing the total number of deaths to about 7,500.

(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)