The government is activating its confidential Artemis plan to tackle the Covid-19 virus, with the mobilization – possibly on Friday – of two new operational centers coordinated by the General Secretariat for Civil Protection, with a third in the process of being set up to have a supervisory role.
The activation of this phase of the plan comes as Greece recorded its first death from the new coronavirus on Thursday and confirmed cases climbed to 117, with the government announcing a fresh batch of measures, including the two-week closure of theaters, courthouses, cinemas, gyms, playgrounds and clubs to control its spread.
The crisis management mechanism will be implemented by the Attica Police Headquarters (GADA), the Fire Brigade Coordination Center and the Greek Police (ELAS).
Accordingly, a pool of 150 specially trained officers will staff GADA and be tasked with tracking and identifying people that have come into contact with confirmed cases and taking quarantine measures.
At the Fire Brigade Coordination Center, 70 officers who have attended a special training program in recent weeks will provide instructions for quarantine compliance.
Based on the geographical distribution of cases, the General Secretariat for Civil Protection will be able to launch plans to establish – if needed – outdoor or floating hospitals in areas where patients exceed the capacity of intensive care units.
In the meantime, the impact on the economy and labor relations as a result of the measures the government has introduced was assessed at a cabinet meeting Thursday, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis asking ministers to draft a plan for the next steps that the state should take given that the economic environment is constantly changing and increasingly unpredictable.
The new environment has also prompted the government to draft a series of measures to boost businesses that are feeling the impact of the crisis. Mitsotakis has already said that the government will proceed with all the necessary actions in order to alleviate, as far as possible, the inevitable consequences for the economy and workers.
Speaking after the confirmation Thursday of the country’s first Covid-19 death – a 66-year-old man who was infected during a religious pilgrimage to Egypt and Israel last month – government spokesman Stelios Petsas said that “the biggest challenge still lies ahead, and there will be large numbers of vulnerable and elderly people needing to be treated in intensive care.”
Meanwhile on Thursday, the Supreme Court said that violations of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus should be treated as a crime and prosecuted.
In related development early Thursday morning, a ferry with 341 passengers and 77 crew on board was temporarily placed in quarantine off the northeastern Aegean island of Limnos on suspicion that a crew member had been infected with the virus.
The Blue Star Mykonos was allowed to continue its journey in the afternoon after the worker tested negative.