With Italy confirming a seventh death from the new coronavirus and at least 200 infections, the Greek Health Ministry is focusing its efforts on increasing alertness among citizens arriving in Greece from areas affected by the virus to seek immediate medical attention if they develop suspicious symptoms.
Moreover, after successive meetings between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Health Ministry and medical authorities, the government is stepping up recruitments and emergency funding of health structures not only so that there is an effective response to any case of the new coronavirus – a possibility that has risen sharply following developments in neighboring Italy – but also for an outbreak of the virus.
The amount of funding and the number of hirings will be decided in the next 24 hours in cooperation with the relevant ministries.
Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias stressed that all necessary precautionary measures have been taken to protect public health and called for “calm, seriousness and professionalism.”
Athens University professor and infectious disease expert Dimitris Tsiodras said the public should remain calm, noting that the virus remains a mild disease, which in most case (85 percent) behaves like a simple cold.
Meanwhile, Greece's National Public Health Organization (EODY) announced on Monday that it has sent a unit to the western port town of Patras to inform crews of passenger and merchant ships arriving from Italy on measures to protect from the virus.
Officials will also try to locate and inform passengers who have recently visited regions of Italy affected by the virus.
For the same reasons, the unit will visit the port of Igoumenitsa on Tuesday. Hundreds of ferry passengers arrive daily at the port of Patras and Igoumenitsa from Italy's Ancona.
Meanwhile, Greece's embassy in Italy said on Monday that it is coordinating with the schools currently in Italy for their safe return to Greece.
The embassy said in a press release it was in contact with the principals accompanying the students, adding that there is “no reason for increased concern, let alone panic.”
Earlier on Monday, the Ministry of Education announced that no more excursions to Italy will take place for the time being.
On Sunday, the Ministry of Education said that students from 10 Greek schools were holidaying in Italy – two were in Milan and eight in central and southern regions of the country. Greece's Health Ministry was organizing their return.
The embassy also called on Greeks who are currently in Italy to follow diligently the advice of local authorities and urged people planning a trip to Italy to contact the Italian Embassy in Athens for information on the region they plan to visit.