NEWS

Government cautiously optimistic about virus

government-cautiously-optimistic-about-virus

As authorities press on with their efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus, there is cautious optimism in the ranks of the government that restrictive measures are paying off, Kathimerini understands, though experts warn against complacency.

With cases in the hundreds and deaths in double digits compared to thousands of deaths in other countries, there is a sense that Greece has avoided the explosive situation in neighboring Italy as well as in Spain and the US.

However, authorities are keen not to trumpet their optimism for fear of a spike in violations of a lockdown which appears to have been observed by a majority of people.

In particular there are fears that the relative success of authorities in containing the spread of the virus might be jeopardized in the runup to Orthodox Easter later this month when thousands of city-dwellers traditionally decamp to their villages or the islands.

The government has indicated that it will do everything possible to avert such an exodus, with a possible closure of toll gates on the cards.

According to sources, experts expect a gradual drop in the curve of reported cases after April 20 and a slow return to normality in the first half of May.

If such a scenario plays out, this would likely provide enough time for the broad development of antibodies against the virus, which would ward against a dynamic reappearance of the virus in the fall. 

Two of Greece’s top epidemiologists, Athens University professors Anastasia Kotanidou and Pagona Lagiou, both stressed to Kathimerini the danger of complacency.

While expressing reserved optimism about the evolution of Covid-19 in this country, they warned of a return to old habits, noting that pandemics are unpredictable.

Restrictive measures put in place by the government should not be relaxed until a significant and consistent reduction in cases has been observed, they said.

While continuing its containment efforts, the government is also attempting to prepare for the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Having already extended financial support to struggling businesses and employees, the government is awaiting the outcome of next week’s Eurogroup summit where the call of several eurozone member-states for a Eurobond is still open for discussion despite reservations by Germany, the Netherlands and other northern countries.