Greek health authorities are stepping up measures to deal with the possible appearance of a deadly new coronavirus that has killed at least 100 people and infected thousands in China since its outbreak earlier this month.
The National Organization of Public Health (EODY) has issued directives for travelers that are being updated daily and also sent guidelines to the country’s airports, ports, hospitals and the EKAV ambulance service on how to spot and deal with infected or potentially infected individuals.
The capital’s Attikon and Sotiria hospitals have been assigned to deal with any cases related to the Wuhan virus – so named after the city where it first appeared – while the Pasteur Institute and the University of Athens will be responsible for conducting any laboratory tests required to confirm or rule out its appearance.
Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias met with Chinese Ambassador to Greece Zhang Qiyue on Monday to discuss measures assumed in China to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which include suspending all organized trips within and outside the country to prevent the virus from spreading.
The meeting, however, came a day after authorities at Athens International Airport intercepted a group of 15 travelers from China, seven of whom came from Wuhan. The tourists were subjected to medical tests before being given a clean bill of health and allowed to continue their journey to the popular holiday island of Santorini.
Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang said on Sunday that an estimated 5 million residents – nearly half its population – fled the city before it was placed on lockdown on January 23, raising fears around the globe of the virus’ spread.