US weekly Time Magazine recently featured Greece’s effectiveness in handling the Covid-19 pandemic, as the country so far has managed to maintain low infection and death rates.
Titled, “Greece has an elderly population and a fragile economy. How has it escaped the worst of the coronavirus so far?”, the article was published in Time’s online edition.
“As a popular tourist destination, Greece received 27.2 million visitors in 2019 alone—presenting a potentially significant risk of COVID-19 from international travelers.
The country’s population is the second-oldest in the E.U. (behind only Italy), its health sector has been ravaged by austerity, and its crippled economy is still nearly 40% smaller than it was in 2008, before the last global financial crisis.
And yet, Greece has avoided the worst of the global pandemic so far,” the article says.
It should be noted that on Wednesday, April 22, almost seven weeks after closing schools and universities nationwide, Greece reported 121 Covid-19-related deaths and 2,408 confirmed cases of infection. Greek health authorities also confirmed that there had been no deaths for the first time since the deadly virus’ outbreak.
As underlined by Time, the key to Greece’s success was the government’s early steps to contain the virus ahead of most of Europe. These included shutting down schools, canceling public events, closing down spaces and enforcing a strict stay-at-home order.
The social distancing measures also kept Greeks away from churches during Orthodox Easter, with people celebrating at home and exchanging wishes with family and friends over cell phone screens.
“Recent spikes in countries with low case counts, like Singapore, show that the virus can quickly gain a foothold even in countries doing well. But experts say there are still lessons to be learned from Greece,” Time says.
The economic toll
The magazine also refered to the economic repercussions of the pandemic in Greece.
“Greece’s output relies quite extensively on sectors that are particularly hard hit by the crisis like international shipping and tourism,” Panos Tsakloglou, professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business told Time.
And while the government has brought in stimulus measures to shore up businesses during the lockdown, the country’s high debt to GDP ratio means it might be difficult for the country to continue borrowing if the crisis stretches into months or years.
However, according to Tsakloglou, the likelihood of Greece needing yet another bailout remains low.