NEWS

Greek authorities boost response after first coronavirus case

PENNY BOULOUTZA

TAGS: Coronavirus, Health

Authorities on Wednesday were scrambling to adopt additional measures to avert the spread of the coronavirus after a 38-year-old woman in Thessaloniki was confirmed as being the country’s first case of the virus.

Experts at the National Health Organization (EODY) were on Wednesday tasked to trace all the people with whom the woman has been in contact following her visit to northern Italy, where it appears that she contracted the virus.

Meanwhile health authorities are calling on all those with symptoms of the coronavirus – high temperature, cough, shortness of breath – to remain at home and seek advice from their doctor or EODY.

Meanwhile, as reports of possible cases of the coronavirus multiply, the Health Ministry revoked the vacations of medical staff at hospitals. As an additional precautionary measure, authorities cleared space in the wards of Thessaloniki's AHEPA Hospital, where the 38-year-old is in quarantine, to respond to the possible need to treat additional coronavirus cases.

Should the virus spread, authorities aim to enforce a series of emergency measures including restrictions on travel, the closure of schools and other closed public spaces, and the use of private hospitals and hotels to host patients.

While urging Greeks to observe basic rules of hygiene, health officials have stressed that there is no reason for panic. According to Athens University professor Sotiris Tsiodras, the head of Greece’s committee of experts on contagious diseases, the case of the 38-year-old is “mild.”

“She is in good health and being monitored by a team of excellent colleagues in Thessaloniki,” Tsiodras said Wednesday. Anyone arriving in Greece from Italy with symptoms of the virus should stay home and inform their doctor or health authorities, he said. 

According to sources, three people believed to have been in contact with the 38-year-old were examined on Wednesday, with the results expected on Thursday. Further, EODY experts have contacted the passengers that the woman traveled with on the flight from Milan to Thessaloniki – those sitting up to two seats from her in every direction.

As a preventive measure, the primary school in Thessaloniki where the 38-year-old woman’s child is a pupil is to remain closed on Thursday.

Although authorities have underlined the need for calm, response to the news of the coronavirus case in Thessaloniki has fueled concerns among the public with reports of sales at supermarkets up by 20 percent over the past few days as customers stock up on basic goods. 

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