NEWS

Health expert says hard lockdown needed to contain virus

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Greece needs a hard lockdown similar to that imposed in the Chinese province of Wuhan – where the coronavirus pandemic is though to have originated – if it hopes to stop widespread transmission of the virus, one of the government’s public health advisers said on Friday.

“The situation is very alarming. We expected a reduction last week, yet infections persist,” Athens University microbiology professor Alkiviadis Vatopoulos, who sits on the committee advising the Greek government on its handling of the pandemic, told Skai television after Greek health authorities reported 3,227 cases on Thursday and 3,209 the day before that.

“One of the characteristics of the epidemic, dating back to August, is that it is spread out across Greece. I think we need to become stricter. The lockdown needs to become stricter, as in China,” said Vatopoulos, arguing that current restrictions – which include a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew and an authorization system restricting public movement – are insufficient to contain the virus.

“In Wuhan, people were only allowed to leave their house once a week to go shopping at the supermarket. This is what we need to do in Greece: shut down businesses and operate as though every day is a Sunday. A Wuhan-style lockdown for two weeks could ease the situation and stop the spread of the virus,” the expert said.

“If we go on as we are, we will mourn victims who had no reason to die, in the sense that they will not be able to get hospital treatment,” Vatopoulos warned, pointing to concerns about the public health system’s ability to cope with rising admissions.