A mobile unit from the National Organization for Public Health conducted hundreds of rapid antigen tests for the novel coronavirus in Kypseli Square near central Athens on Friday. Such testing teams will be visiting different parts of the capital to conduct random spot checks in a bid to control the spread of the virus. [Yiannis Liakos/InTime News]
Greece is still “far from a lockdown” in its management of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias said on Friday, adding that “there are a lot more measures that can be applied, if needed, before this option.”
Speaking to reporters in Athens, Hardalias insisted that stricter mask use and measures targeted at specific groups are among the steps that will be implemented to avert the devastating social and economic impact of another lockdown.
“The data is examined every hour, every minute, by our scientists. We are studying the evolution of the pandemic and what precise measures need to be taken will be determined by the data at any given moment,” Hardalias said.
Hardalias’ comments came in the wake of reports that the government may proceed to localized curfews and lockdowns if new infection numbers do not start going down. This would pertain mainly to Athens and other parts of the Attica region that have seen a much bigger surge in new cases than other parts of the country in recent weeks.
Speaking to Star television earlier on Friday, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said that according to the data, there are currently more than 900 active coronavirus cases in the Municipality of Athens, while Hardalias had said in a press conference last week that the Region of Attica as a whole had more than 2,000 active cases, though this will have risen significantly since.
State broadcaster ERT reported that four specific measures are being examined by the government’s committee of experts for the area: mandatory mask use in all public and outdoor spaces; a curfew from midnight to 6 a.m., whereby citizens would only be allowed to circulate after receiving permission via SMS; an SMS system controlling the movements of people over the age of 65; and a mandatory closing time for kiosks and convenience stores to discourage after-bar crowds from gathering at public squares.