The Greek authorities have taken every measure to protect the country against the spread of the new coronavirus, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said on Monday, as the death toll in neighboring Italy climbed to five.
“We have taken all the necessary precautions to safeguard the public’s health. We are organized and structured, and this is proved by the fact that we have successfully dealt with all suspicious cases so far,” Kilkilias told reporters in Athens, following a briefing of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Sunday’s emergency meeting of health officials.
Apart from Kikilias, Monday’s briefing was also attended by the ministers of Education Niki Kerameus, Citizens’ Protection Michalis Chrysochoidis, Interior Takis Theodorikakos, State Giorgos Gerapetritis and Migration Notis Mitarakis, among other officials.
Kikilias said he briefed the prime minister on the latest developments concerning the virus, which surged in parts of Italy in recent days, promoting fears that it could spread to Greece.
He also appealed to the media to maintain a “serious” stance in its coverage of the outbreak by avoiding misinformation and fearmongering.
“It is our duty to defend public health and this means we need to inform citizens in a serious and proper manner, through the proper channels,” he said.
Sunday’s emergency meeting of health officials introduced measures to bolster inspections at Greece’s entry points and particularly its western ports, which receive daily ferry traffic from Italy.
Kikilias added that 13 hospitals in different parts of the country are on standby to receive any suspicious cases and that special guidelines have been given to all hospitals, medical centers, paramedics, ambulance workers, port and airport officials, while the Health Ministry’s committee of experts on contagious diseases is also on standby.
The committee is headed by Athens University professor and infectious disease expert Dimitris Tsiodras, who is expected to hold a press conference on Monday afternoon.