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High Covid-19 Rates in Greece Create Concern

UPDATE: Extra Covid-19 restrictions, including a strict curfew, has been announced for West Attica. Press here for update.

Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias (R).

A strong persistence of Covid-19 incidents in Western Attica and Northern Greece is forcing authorities to re-examine lockdown measures and holiday restrictions, Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said on Wednesday.

“If and when the [Covid-19] data shows signs of deterioration, we will reconsider all the measures…,” he said during a briefing on the course of the pandemic focused on Kozani and Western Attica, “where the situation is considered particularly serious”, he said.

Meanwhile, Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis is visiting Kozani today and Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias will be in Thessaloniki – both will hold emergency Covid-19 meetings with regional and local authorities.

On the back of Kikilias’ announcement, health experts and epidemiologists said the nine-person limit on holiday gatherings was also under reconsideration as well as the extension of total lockdown measures for areas and regions where the number of cases fails to subside.

Microbiology Professor at National School of Public Health, Alkiviadis Vatopoulos, and his colleague Athanasios Tsakris, microbiology professor at the University of Athens Medical School, both expect the upcoming period to be difficult, requiring even stricter measures.

Photo Source: @EODY

“We are entering a difficult month. We may have the vaccine that is certainly noteworthy and will play an important role in managing the epidemic, but in January we expect a bigger outbreak of the virus with a resurgence of the second wave. It may be worse than what we experienced in November. That’s why Europe is preparing to prevent the worst. It has to do with the weather conditions, but also with the crowding during the holidays. There may be an extension of existing lockdown measures in January or even harsher, like in March,” said Tsakris speaking to SKAI TV.

Vatopoulos added that “the limit of nine people at holiday tables can be lifted if things get worse. The situation is unpredictable”.

Ten high-incidence areas

According to Kikilias areas with high Covid-19 incidence are Kilkis, Xanthi, Pieria, Drama, Thessaloniki, Kozani, Rodopi, Grevena, Pella and Larissa.

“In Aspropyrgos and West Attica there are large industries where it is extremely difficult to comply with restrictions. In these areas, there is a possibility of a total lockdown, like the one in March, in order to reduce mobility and prevent the spread of the virus,” Vatopoulos said.

In the last 24 hour period, Greece recorded 1,155 new coronavirus cases and 78 related deaths.

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