With the next two weeks deemed to be critical as regards the spread of the coronavirus, or Covid-19, the government has made it clear that it will take all necessary measures to contain it, with the possibility of a full lockdown being considered.
In an interview with Kathimerini on Sunday, Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said that all options, including that of a lockdown, are on the table. Asked whether the military will become involved in enforcing the restrictions announced by the government, Hardalias said that no such decision has been taken yet, noting however that armed forces officers have participated in meetings discussing plans that would involve the military in an auxiliary role.
On the prospect of a full lockdown, Hardalias said he could not confirm it in advance, but pointed to last week’s assurance by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis that all required action will be taken, however tough. “We expect an increase in cases,” Hardalis said. “But we are also waiting to see the extent to which the preventive measures imposed so far have been effective,” he said, noting that the government’s approach has been “a daily adjustment of the measures in accordance of how the situation evolves.”
The government is determined to contain the virus and avert a situation like the one in Italy, where thousands have died, Hardalias said. But the public’s stance will be critical. “We will not tolerate a situation where parks and beaches are full of people and highways of motorists heading to summer homes,” he said.
There are also concerns about the healthcare system’s ability to cope. One worry is that the frequency with which doctors, nurses and administrative staff at hospitals are testing positive for the virus is growing, with dozens positive for Covid-19 and more than 300 in isolation. The duration of quarantine for health workers is seven days rather than the 14-day rule for others, amid concerns that the health sector will be unable to respond adequately. Again, professionals in Greece’s health sector (ESY) say, the behavior of the public will be pivotal. “We must protect ESY by hook or by crook,” Matina Pagoni, head of the union of Athens and Piraeus hospital doctors, told Kathimerini. “If everyone does what they have to do the virus will not spread further and increase the risk for those treating patients.”
Meanwhile Kathimerini understands that the police has activated a plan to respond to a possible spike in robberies targeting the few businesses that are still operating following restrictions, notably supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies.