NEWS

Health minister to brief PM after meeting on coronavirus

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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will be receiving Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias at his office in the Maximos Mansion on Monday for a briefing on a weekend meeting of health officials on the new coronavirus outbreak in neighboring Italy.

Health Ministry officials held an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss Greece’s response to a surge in reported infections of the COVID-19 virus in the region, amid concerns that the highly contagious virus could reach Greece, particularly via its ports.

The main focus of new measures agreed at Sunday’s meeting is checks at entry points, and especially the western ports of Patra and Igoumenitsa, which receive regular ferry traffic from Italy. Staff at those ports, as well as at the capital’s Piraeus, will be receiving special training under the European Union’s Healthy Gateways program to inspect incoming ferry passengers and crews, the Health Ministry said in an announcement on Sunday.

The ministry will also be bolstering a public awareness campaign aimed at informing citizens and visitors on how to respond to possible symptoms of infection and to prevent contagion by adopting some basic sanitation measures.

In a related development, the Health Ministry on Sunday decided that it would not quarantine 10 pupils returning from a school trip to Italy, saying that they did not visit high-risk areas. However, it also banned any more school trips to the neighboring country, where authorities have placed three cities on lockdown after more than 150 people were reported to have been infected and the death toll on Monday rose to four.