COVID MEASURES

Spike in cases leads to lockdown extension

Pandemic resurgence postpones planned easing of restrictions as pressure mounts on economy

spike-in-cases-leads-to-lockdown-extension

Responding to the recent surge in coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced an extension of the lockdown during a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, saying the epidemiological data have forced the government to reconsider plans for a gradual relaxation of restrictions as of March 1.

The question now is how long this specific extension will last, with some health experts already urging an additional two weeks, until March 15.

The final decisions will be made on Friday, on the heels of Thursday’s meeting of infectious disease specialists under Professor Sotiris Tsiodras, who are seeking to identify, as far as this is possible, the causes that have led to the resurgence of the pandemic.

The latest developments are further hurting the economy, as the cost of each week the market is closed is estimated at 400-500 million euros, placing further pressure on the finite reserves available to the government.

Given these high financial stakes, it is likely that the restrictions could be extended for a week and then re-evaluated next Friday. 

Against this gloom, Mitsotakis sought to strike a note of optimism, referring to the vaccination program which he said is going very well and that the time is approaching when a wall of immunity will be created.

“We must remain very focused on the measures that we know work,” he said, noting that the world now has the weapon of vaccinations in its hands “which is something that we did not have a few months ago.”

According to sources, Greece is expected to complete one million vaccinations next week.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, cases continued to soar as health authorities announced 1,913 new SARS-CoV-2 infections, raising the total number reported in the country to 184,686.

According to the new data published by the National Organization for Public Health (EODY), 357 people were intubated while 1,299 have left ICU. The data also showed that 28 patients died from Covid-19, raising the total number of fatalities to 6,371. 

Authorities have conducted 3,561,455 tests since the start of the epidemic in Greece, and 1,501,431 rapid antigen tests.

Also on Wednesday, the General Secretariat of Civil Protection announced that the regional unit of Arcadia in the central Peloponnese will join other regions in adopting tougher restrictions on movement as of today.