In an apparent bid to underline the government’s determination to contain any localized outbreaks of the coronavirus following a recent spike in cases, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias and the government’s special adviser on the coronavirus crisis, epidemiologist Sotiris Tsiodras, traveled on Friday to the northern Greek regional unit of Xanthi with a team from the National Organization for Public Health (EODY).
The visit came a day after the General Secretariat for Civil Protection announced restrictions for the area of Xanthi in northeastern Greece after 15 coronavirus infections were reported there in one day while imposing a curfew on the village of Echinos, where most of the cases were traced.
In comments to reporters in Xanthi, a masked Tsiodras said that experts were examining several ways to contain such localized outbreaks, including an increase in testing for Covid-19 and strict quarantine rules for patients.
The public reappearance of Tsiodras, whose daily briefings on the evolution of the pandemic stopped in late May after it appeared that Greece had largely curbed the virus, appeared to reinforce reports of concerns in the ranks of the government about a recent spike in infections.
Expressing understanding for a certain level of public fatigue with ongoing restrictions, albeit less strict ones, Tsiodras urged Greeks to continue to use caution. “It would be a shame for all this effort to go to waste,” he said.
One of the key risks, Tsiodras noted, was the spread of the virus by asymptomatic patients. At least 20 of the patients who tested positive in Xanthi were infected by carriers without symptoms, he said.
On Friday, health authorities announced 20 new cases of Covid-19 infections and no new deaths. The total number of infections nationwide now stands at 3,108 and the death toll remains at 183.
The government has said it will continue to impose restrictions to contain localized outbreaks while a new blanket lockdown is considered extremely unlikely.
With the country reopening its borders in phases in a bid to salvage its vital tourism season, efforts are under way to bolster health infrastructure on the islands to respond to possible localized flare-ups of the virus during the summer.
Additional measures, announced on Friday by Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias, include more testing, the linking of health services there to hospitals on the mainland, and the recruitment of additional seasonal staff.