Lockdown looms if bid to contain spread of virus in Athens falls short

Lockdown looms if bid to contain spread of virus in Athens falls short

With a new record in coronavirus infections on Monday – 453 in 24 hours – and the biggest concentration of new cases still in Attica, the government made it clear that a localized lockdown for greater Athens will be required if new restrictions that came into effect on Monday do not curb the spread of the virus. 

Briefing reporters on Monday, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said the authorities were determined to take “whichever measures are necessary to protect public health.”

“We have never hesitated in imposing localized lockdowns, from March until now, in many parts of the country,” he said, adding that “Attica is no exception.” 

The biggest concern is about central Athens, where numerous instances of overcrowding are being reported. In the coming days, Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias is to meet with officials from City Hall to discuss possible new restrictions such as the earlier closure of street kiosks and convenience stores in neighborhoods where spikes in infections have been reported.

The idea is to make it harder for people to buy alcohol and gather in city squares once bars and restaurants close at midnight. There are also plans to boost the policing of squares in the center to prevent overcrowding. Moreover, a special mobile app will soon be available, giving citizens information about the particular restrictions that apply in their area. 

The additional restrictions for Attica that came into effect Monday – and will stay in place for two weeks – include a limit of nine people for private and public gatherings; a cap of 20 people for weddings, baptisms and funerals; and a suspension of all concerts and other cultural events and the closure of indoor cinemas.

Covid-19 infections hit a fresh record on Monday, with 453 in 24 hours, bringing the total to 15,595. Of the new cases, 174 were in Attica, with 184 at the new temporary camp for migrants on Lesvos and another 25 were detected at the country’s border entry points. Six more patients died, bringing the total number of fatalities to 344. 

There are concerns about a rise in patients in intensive care units. Seventy-nine people are currently intubated but Petsas said that more beds would be made available to deal with any increase. 

In a related development, at least eight coronavirus cases have reportedly been detected at the Monastery of Agios Pavlos on Mount Athos in northern Greece.  

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