Greece Prepares Covid-19 Island Plan as it Opens to Tourism
Greece’s emergency strategy, including air ambulance services, testing and health infrastructure on the islands to address possible Covid-19 cases will be presented on Thursday, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said this week speaking at the digital Delphi Economic Forum 2020.
Kikilias presented key points of the strategy which will be put into place as Greece prepares to re-open to tourists on Monday.
Covering the Greek islands are the top priority, Kikilias said, due to greater concentrations of travelers. Among others, the government plan includes enhanced medical facilities and infrastructure, more staff, enhance hygiene measures, the capacity for air or sea ambulance services as well as the possibility of conducting coronavirus testing.
The minister went on to add that the plan is based on a coordinated network of health facilities, hospital and medical centers operating within a radius of each other to support remote islands and regions and to offer testing.
With regard to the possibility of incoming travelers spreading the virus on their visit to Greek destinations, Kikilias admitted it was “a challenge but it will be addressed again in a rational and step-by-step manner… An increase [in cases] is not unlikely, but the ministry has a specific strategy to monitor and control the situation, which it will present on Thursday”, he added.
Speaking at the same event, National Public Health Organization (EODY) President Panagiotis Arkoumaneas noted that “if distances are observed, citizens wear masks where they should and if they wash their hands often”, a potential Covid-19 case from abroad will most likely not spread. He did however stress that people should continue to be attentive and caeful.
It should be reminded that Greek resort facilities will be manned by a medical doctor responsible for conducting Covid-19 tests and a health coordinator who will be in contact with the General Secretariat for Civil Protection; and secondly, special quarantine areas will be set up in case of suspected or positive coronavirus cases, with available transport options to the nearest medical facility if needed.
Lastly, the minister reiterated the need for each individual to act responsibly.
The main problem is of course personal responsability, and I’m afraid tourists, as they feel – and are – on holiday, will tend not to be cautious enough regarding their behaviour (distancing, masks, etc.). I would encourage the greek authorities to be friendly but unforgiving to those disrespectful of these measures. I’m French, I plan to come to Greece in september, and I will be as cautious there as I am at home. I think I owe that to a welcoming country.