Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said early on Friday, that additional restrictions in the wider Athens area to curb the spread of Covid-19 may be implemented in the coming days, including limits on public gatherings and suspension of all cultural events.
The prime minister’s announcement follows a spike in new coronavirus cases reported over the previous 24-hour period on Thursday to 359 overall, 212 of which are in the wider Athens region.
The decision followed an inter-ministerial tele-meeting on Friday morning with health authorities headed by epidemiologist Sotiris Tsiodras and relevant ministers.
The measures will focus on high-risk areas in and around Athens.
“The government is ready to implement additional measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Attica,” said Mitsotakis on Friday.
The Greek prime minister went on to add that based on recommendations by the country’s Covid-19 management committee, “restrictions may include limits on public gatherings, suspension of all cultural events for 14 days, telework in both the public and the private sectors to reduce the unnecessary movement”.
“These measures could be decided on today [Friday], and go into effect by Monday so as to be ready,” said Mitsotakis.
Tsiodras referred to the rising number of patients requiring hospital treatment, which he said was one of the indicators affecting the committee’s decision for tighter measures. The increasing number in Covid-19 incidents is beginning to weighing down on the public health system which is running out of intensive care units (ICUs).
According to the National Public Health Organization (EODY), Greece has so far recorded a total of 14,400 Covid-19 cases – 2,500 (or 17.4 percent) of which related to travel abroad – and a total of 325 deaths.
‘New Lockdown for Athens if Measures Don’t Work’
Speaking on ANT1 channel on Thursday, epidemiologist Nikos Sipsas, who is also a member of the country’s Covid-19 management committee, said that Attica, which includes Athens, may face an new lockdown if extra measures do not lead to a decrease in new Covid-19 cases over the next 10 to 15 days.
“If the situation continues, particularly in Attica, we will definitely have a lockdown, there is no doubt about that,” said Sipsas.
“We will give measures a week, 10 days or two weeks at most [to produce results]. If they don’t work, the next step is to limit the movement of citizens,” said Sipsas, noting that the new lockdown will last at least for a week.
Mitsotakis reiterated the importance of adhering to health and hygiene protocols as well as the use of masks in all public areas. He also urged higher risk individuals to remain at home.