A man wearing a protective face mask makes his way on the empty Kotzia square, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Athens, Greece, April 7, 2020 [Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters]
As eurozone finance ministers met into the night to discuss the bloc’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis meanwhile welcomed a decision by the European Central Bank to accept Greek government bonds as collateral as a move “that will further boost liquidity in the economy.”
The decision came to fill what is seen as a void left by eurozone governments whose finance ministers labored into the night on Tuesday to agree on a response to the pandemic to avoid the dire economic consequences.
The ECB’s decision to increase its risk tolerance and accept junk-rated Greek government bonds as collateral is part of wide-ranging measures to ease lenders’ access to liquidity.
Finance Minister Christos Staikouras hailed the decision as one that will significantly expand the funding sources of Greek banks and consequently strengthen their ability to support the real economy, businesses and households. In addition, he said that it is expected to have a positive effect on the marketability and valuations of Greek bonds.
Meanwhile, government officials said on Tuesday that although the lockdown imposed last month has helped contain the spread of the coronavirus it is too early to lift restrictions.
The Health Ministry announced two new deaths from the coronavirus Tuesday, bringing the total number to 81. In his daily press briefing, ministry spokesman and infectious diseases professor Sotiris Tsiodras said 77 new cases were confirmed.
The total number of Covid-19 infections in Greece stands at 1,832. Ninety patients remain intubated in intensive care units. Also on Tuesday, the government announced that mobile Covid-19 testing units will be launched Wednesday. The units will visit homes where there are suspected cases of infection, under the guidance of the National Public Health Organization (EODY).