Greece orders Covid self-testing for service workers

Greece orders Covid self-testing for service workers

Greece will make self-testing for Covid-19 compulsory for service workers in sectors including shops, restaurants and transport, authorities said on Wednesday, as the government looks to gradually reopen the economy.

Greece, which coped relatively well during the first wave of the pandemic, was forced to tighten restrictions to combat a surge in infections from late last year.

After starting mass distribution of home-testing kits for high school students and teachers before they returned to classes this week, testing will be extended to more workers, Greek ministers said on Wednesday.

As well as retail, restaurant and transport staff, workers in cleaning services, hair salons and betting shops will be required to do one test a week from April 19, Labor Minister Kostis Hatzidakis told a weekly Covid-19 briefing.

“We are drafting self-testing to control the spread of the coronavirus at work,” Hatzidakis said, announcing fines for employers who do not ensure the tests are carried out.

Authorities reported 3,089 new cases and 81 deaths from Covid-19 on Wednesday. The pandemic has now caused a total of 304,184 infections in Greece along with 9,135 deaths.

Hospitals around Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki have struggled to cope in recent months. The situation in the wider Athens area, where nearly half of the country’s 11 million population lives, has stabilised, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias told reporters.

But he cautioned against complacency and called on Greeks to get vaccinated. “Book a date, go get inoculated and protect your family,” he said.

Greece has only recently ramped up vaccinations with the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca shots.

The head of the European Union’s executive commission said on Wednesday EU countries will receive 50 million more Covid-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and BioNTech in the second quarter, with deliveries set for the end of the year brought forward.

That decision means Greece will get an additional tranche of 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine by June, Kikilias said. [Reuters]

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