NEWS

Public Health Council convenes over coronavirus

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Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias will be chairing a meeting of Greece’s National Council for Public Health (ESYD) on Monday to discuss the country's preparations to shield itself from the deadly new coronavirus that made its appearance in China last month.

The meeting comes as a Greek national was among more than 250 people from 30 countries who were flown on Sunday out of China’s Wuhan, the city where the outbreak of the new virus began, to France, where they will be kept in quarantine for two weeks and subjected to medical tests.

The Greek Foreign Ministry thanked France for the operation in a tweet on Sunday.

“Grateful to #France for organizing the repatriation of Greek & other EU citizens from #Wuhan, #China, with support from the #EU Civil Protection Mechanism #EUCivPro. We thank FM @JY_LeDrian & our colleagues at @francediplo_EN for their solidarity & support,” the tweet said, referring to French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The Greek man who was evacuated to France works as a professor of environmental law in Wuhan and was traveling with his pregnant wife.

“I will be held here for 14 days before I am allowed to travel but when I can leave my plan is to come to Athens,” Alex Zahar told Skai TV, saying that neither he nor his wife have not shown any symptoms of infection.

“If we didn’t have the Greek diplomats to help us, I’d still be there with my wife who’s eight months pregnant. The situation was very dangerous and we had to leave, fast,” he added.

EODY last week 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.

Meanwhile, dozens of schools across Greece, including in the capital, will be closed again on Monday and Tuesday in a bid to contain a spike in influenza infections among pupils.

In Kozani in northern Greece, for example, the Municipality of Servia has ordered the closure of its first and third elementary schools, where a large number of children have been infected with seasonal flu, in order to disinfect classrooms, while the southern Athens district of Alimos is keeping the doors closed at six schools within its municipality.

The decision to close schools in order to reduce exposure, and particularly to the potentially dangerous H1N1 strain of the flu virus, started last week.