NEWS

Hard lockdown now so we can listen to the Easter bells, says medical chief

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The head of Greece’s medical association on Tuesday urged the government to agree to a tough lockdown of two to four weeks that would stem the progression of the novel coronavirus and especially its new, more virulent variant.

“The new variant is transmitted a lot faster, so we haven’t got the same margins of time,” Athanasios Exadaktylos told Skai TV on Tuesday morning, hours before Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis convenes an emergency meeting to discuss the possibility of tougher restrictions in the Greek capital and other parts of the country where numbers have been rising.

“If we lock down now, we will be able to listen to the bells at Easter,” he said, indicating that tougher restrictions will help contain the spread of the virus and allow a safer reopening by the spring.

“Vaccinations will also have progressed by early March, so we’ll be in a much different position by then,” Exadaktylos said, recommending an almost complete ban on public movement for the next few weeks as Greece’s vaccination program, dubbed Operation Freedom, gathers pace with the arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week, beside the Pfizer-BioNTech jab that health authorities have been administering since late December.

Last spring, churches were not allowed to open for Easter, the biggest holiday on the Greek Orthodox calendar.