With another 10 cases of Covid-19 infections confirmed in Greece on Wednesday, raising the total to 99, the Health Ministry announced that the National Health System (ESY) will be reinforced immediately with an additional 2,000 staff.
Meanwhile, in a televised address on Wednesday, shortly after the World Health Organization declared the new coronavirus a pandemic, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed optimism that the problem would be tackled, but underlined that “the most difficult phase still lies ahead,” and for this reason “any complacency is impermissible.”
“No measure can be substituted for individual responsibility,” he said.
He also urged the elderly not to attend church services as part of a new batch of measures to prevent the spread of the virus to vulnerable populations.
“This is not a question of faith but a question of safeguarding people’s health,” he said, adding that religious duties should be carried out “as much as possible from home, to limit large gatherings.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece said it will close Sunday schools and youth clubs as well as Church-run creches for two weeks – from March 11 to 29 – adding however that churches will remain open and services will continue.
Mitsotakis described the coronavirus as an “unprecedented public health crisis” which still hasn’t hit Greece as hard as other countries. “But we should have no illusions: The hardest days are still ahead of us. At this time, any complacency is unacceptable,” he said.
The government aims to manage the epidemic by implementing measures that will help “stagger” any serious cases over time so that patients are able to receive the care they need, he added.
He also announced that the public sector would adopt flexible working hours, video conferencing and working from home.
Discussing the effects on the Greek economy, he said it would “take a hit that was impossible to predict,” and announced measures to mitigate the damage, such as the suspension of value-added tax and social security contributions for businesses that have suffered economic losses.
The government will also introduce a special leave for parents with children aged up to 15, which will be partly funded by the state.