Second nationwide lockdown looms

Second nationwide lockdown looms

Amid a sharp new spike in coronavirus infections and concerns about rising pressure on the health service, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is on Thursday set to announce a nationwide lockdown. 

The premier is expected to herald the lockdown, which would be the second since the pandemic’s onset, during a televised address to the nation scheduled for noon, which is to be followed by a Q&A session with reporters. 

Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias told Antenna TV last night that epidemiologists had advised Mitsotakis to impose a month-long nationwide lockdown. It is expected that the restrictions will last until the end of the month. 

All retail stores will close and travel between regions will be banned while it is expected that authorities will reintroduce a system obliging citizens to send text messages to a government number to leave home to work, shop, visit a doctor or take exercise. Secondary schools will close while kindergartens and primary schools will likely stay open. 

After Mitsotakis’ address on Thursday, he is to take questions from reporters in a briefing that will also be attended by infectious diseases professor Sotiris Tsiodras. 

The development came as the National Organization for Public Health (EODY) announced a new record of 2,646 new infections on Wednesday, raising the total to 46,892. Another 18 fatalities pushed the death toll up to 673. Meanwhile the number of intubated Covid patients rose to 179. 

The government’s original plan had been to monitor the impact of a raft of restrictions imposed on Attica on Tuesday, along with a full lockdown on Thessaloniki and Serres, over the coming days before deciding whether stricter measures are necessary. 

However, concerns about the sharp rate of increase in infections and growing pressure on hospitals prompted experts to urge a full nationwide lockdown amid fears that the situation would spiral out of control. 

Epidemiologists stressed during yesterday’s meeting that although the situation at Attica hospitals is still manageable, Thessaloniki is not only close to the limit but at risk of facing a similar crisis to that suffered by Italy in March in the first wave of the pandemic. There are already fears of a spillover to Attica from Thessaloniki’s hospitals. Of the 348 beds in intensive care units that have been set aside for Covid patients, 220 were occupied yesterday. 

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