NEWS

Study points to success of Greek lockdown

PENNY BOULOUTZA

TAGS: Health, Coronavirus

The lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the implementation of multiple measures promoting social distancing led to an 81 percent reduction of Greece’s R number (which measures the rate of the virus’ reproduction), according to a study by Greek researchers.

The R number is basically how many people an infected person will transmit the disease to. 

The study also showed that during the quarantine, the residents of Athens reduced their social contacts by a staggering 86.9 percent.

Greeks as a whole reduced their social contacts from 20.7 people on a daily basis before the lockdown was imposed, to just 2.9 people (the largest decrease was recorded in those aged 5 to 17 due to the closure of schools).

This greatly impacted the R value, which dropped from 2.8, when restrictions had not yet been introduced, to 0.46 during the lockdown.

If the R number is below one, the pandemic is deemed to be under control and on the way to dying out. The models used in the study also estimated that even if the initial number was 5.3, it would still have fallen below 1 after the restrictions were imposed.

According to the study, the closure of schools lowered the R value by 18.5 percent, the reduction of contacts on business premises did so by 10.3 percent, while abstention from leisure activities slashed the value by 24.1 percent. 

The researchers said that each measure alone had a smaller impact on the R value than when they were combined.

Based on the mathematical models used by the researchers, who also included infectious diseases expert Sotiris Tsiodras, it is estimated that from the beginning of the epidemic until the end of April, about 13,200 people were infected in the country, confirming that a very small percentage of the population contracted the virus.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Greece announced the suspension of flights to and from Qatar until mid-June, after 12 out of 91 passengers on a Qatar Airways flight that landed in Athens on Monday tested positive for Covid-19.

Nine of the infected passengers are Pakistani nationals who have a Greek residence permit and had traveled from the city of Gujrat, two are Greek nationals who were traveling from Australia and one is a Japanese national and a member of a Greek-Japanese family, the General Secretariat for Civil Protection said in a press release. 

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