NEWS

‘State of alert’ amid rise in infections

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Amid concerns about a steady increase in coronavirus infections in the country, government officials on Monday signified their readiness to intensify restrictions. Meanwhile experts are concerned about a spike in new cases over the past two weeks, to 6.1 per 100,000 people from 4.2 per 100,000.

They believe they should have a clearer picture of the extent to which new cases have contributed to community transmission of the pandemic by mid-August. 

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis noted that a second full public lockdown was not something the Greek economy, nor other European economies, could withstand. “We are in a phase where all European countries must remain in a heightened state of alert over the next few months, at least until a vaccine for the coronavirus is found,” Mitsotakis said ahead of talks in Athens with Armin Laschet, premier of North Rhine-Westphalia. “We all realize that we can’t go ahead with a second full lockdown of our economies,” he added. 

On Monday, the National Health Authority (EODY) announced 77 new cases of coronavirus in Greece, raising the nationwide total to 4,737, and one more fatality, pushing the death toll to 209. Of the new cases, only 10 were linked to foreign travel, with the majority a result of community transmission. A total of 27 cases were traced in Attica, with another 12 linked to weddings in Alexandroupoli and Thessaloniki. 

In areas where spikes in infections have been reported, authorities have reintroduced some restrictions. For instance, in Kavala, where 35 infections were traced to workers at a meat processing factory and their relatives, all events planned for this week as part of the city’s Kosmopolis festival were canceled. 

On Monday it was also decided that those traveling by ferry will have to wear face masks even on open-air decks. 

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters that the situation will be assessed three times a week during a teleconference of health experts to be chaired by Mitsotakis. 

Meanwhile the Greek Police (ELAS) has stepped up checks on bars and clubs at popular summer destinations for Greeks and foreign tourists alike where overcrowding has fueled fears of the further transmission of the virus. Attention is focused in particular on the popular islands of Mykonos, Santorini and Paros, as well as the capital and Thessaloniki, which have seen a recent increase in infections. Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis on Monday discussed the plan with the country’s regional police chiefs. 

The crackdown was launched last week on Mykonos following complaints that private parties were being held at rented villas on the island.