The coronavirus has spread to Greece, where at least three cases have been recorded forcing health authorities to cancel all carnival festivities scheduled for the three-day weekend ahead.
At the same time, the country’s general secretariat for civil protection issued guidelines in six languages – English, French, Russian, Albanian, Arabic and Farsi (Persian) – with precautionary measures and information on the virus, which initially appears to have limited symptoms and resembles a common cold or seasonal flu.
The health ministry earlier today confirmed two more cases of infected individuals – one in Athens – following the Thessaloniki incident earlier this week.
“We have decided to cancel carnival events across Greece, as have other European countries,” said Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias, after an emergency response committee meeting. “It is very important to control the surroundings near incidents and of all those who have been in contact with infected individuals,” he said.
So far, the new Covid-19 virus has led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 people and infected 81,000 people worldwide.
In Europe, the novel virus spread from Italy, where the cases surged to 400 in under a week, to Spain, Croatia, France, Switzerland, and Germany. At least 15 cases have been reported in the UK.
Despite the fact that the virus has spread to six of the world’s seven continents – excluding Antarctica – the World Health Organization (WHO) has still not classified the epidemic as a “global pandemic”.
Meanwhile, the tourism industry is feared to suffer a blow as Covid-19 spreads with all the more countries announcing safety measures and travel restrictions.
This week, the Foreign Office (FCO) advised against all-but-essential travel.
Speaking to the press on Wednesday, EU Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides, underlined the importance of “keeping the borders open” across the EU, instead of “resorting to what could be considered disproportionate and inefficient measures”.