Greece hopes for ‘corona bond’ to assist virus-hit countries, says spokesman


Greece hopes EU countries will agree on a common debt instrument to raise funds to support economies in combating the new coronavirus, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said in a press briefing Thursday.

“Obviously, the state of the real economy has deteriorated and continues to deteriorate. This is why we are reevaluating the situation on a daily basis,” he said.

Petsas confirmed that Greece, along with nine other countries including France, Italy and Spain have called for a common debt instrument to raise funds on the market, noting that the government hopes the EU will rise to the occasion.

“We hope that now, in the face of the blows [to the economy] caused by the pandemic, a special bond will be issued and the tools available to the European Stability Mechanism will be used to finance member states' actions,” he said.

Petsas said the government pursues a three-pronged approach in tackling the pandemic and its effects on the economy: halting the spread of the virus, strengthening the health system, and supporting businesses and workers affected, as well as taking measures to improve daily life.

“We are now in the two most critical weeks [of the epidemic],” he said and hailed Greeks’ compliance with “very difficult, unprecedented measures that have never been imposed in peacetime.”

As for boosting the capabilities of the national care system, he said two months ago there were 564 beds in ICUs and now they have risen to 813, including those in private clinics. There are also 2,158 beds in regular hospital rooms reserved for Covid-19 patients.

Furthermore, 279 new doctors and 1,077 nurses and other staff are already in hospitals, while another 3,285 hirings have been approved.