Following a dramatic spike in new coronavirus infections on Wednesday – 865 confirmed cases – Greek authorities are planning new restrictions to curb the further spread of the virus, notably in regions that belong to level three in a four-tier response system, while Kastoria became the second area in northern Greece, after Kozani, to enter the top tier.
A local lockdown is to come into effect in Kastoria from Friday, Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said on Wednesday. This means citizens will have to wear face masks everywhere, while public and private gatherings, as well as travel outside the region, will be banned. Shops, gyms, courts, restaurants, cinemas and museums will close.
Hardalias also said that the regions of Thessaloniki, Viotia, Larissa and Serres will be categorized as level 3 in the tiered system.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is to chair a meeting of health experts on Thursday to discuss whether to impose additional restrictions to regions which have seen a dynamic increase in infections.
Possible measures being considered include a public curfew from 12.30 a.m. until 5 a.m. – with the key aim being to curb outdoor parties and gatherings – as well as the mandatory use of face masks everywhere and a possible ban on travel outside the region.
Of the 865 new infections announced on Wednsday, 331 were in Attica and 181 in Thessaloniki. The new cases pushed the total number of cases since the onset of the pandemic to 27,334 while six new fatalities edged the death toll up to 534. A total of 86 patients were intubated.
The key fear of health experts is that a continuing increase in infections will lead to more serious cases, pushing hospitals beyond their capacity. “The bad scenario that our country faces would be an uncontrolled increase in serious cases and intubated patients,” Alkiviadis Vatopoulos, a professor of microbiology at the University of West Attica, told Kathimerini.
A doubling of intubated patients within a week, for instance, would put serious pressure on the national health service, he said.
There are also concerns about an increase in deaths. There were 143 related fatalities in the first three weeks of October compared to 125 in September and 60 in August.
Epidemiologists are also worried that most new infections are scattered across the country and not linked to known clusters.