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Surge in Covid-19 Cases May Force Greece to Remain in Lockdown 

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Photo source: @PrimeMinisterGR

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called off plans to ease Covid-19 lockdown measures early next month after the health authorities announced a surge in cases on Tuesday.

“The sharp increase in cases yesterday pushes back the prospect of easing measures on March 1,” Mitsotakis said during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, stressing that despite vaccination proceeding at a good pace, citizens would have to remain very focused and comply to “the measures we know work”. 

Greece saw positive coronavirus cases surge to 2,147 on Tuesday, with the majority reported in Athens. At the same time, the country’s health care facilities are nearing their limit.

The Greek PM said he understood that people were experiencing fatigue due to the containment measures, which have been ongoing for over two months, but added that it was only a matter of time before the vaccinations begin to take effect and “the considerable ordeal” comes to an end.

Earlier this week, plans were underway to allow certain activities as of March, including retail and schools, but not (non-essential) domestic travel after the chairman of the Greek Medical Association, Athanasios Exadaktylos confirmed the viral load was decreasing.

In the meantime, the Greek Covid-19 committee convened today to discuss the extension of measures and ways to address the overload at hospitals. Health experts propose the further extension of lockdown measures for at least two more weeks and until pressure on the health care system is eased and the viral load decreases.

A Covid-19 testing unit of Greece’s National Public Health Organization (EODY) in the district of Kallithea, Athens. Photo source: @Municipality of Kallithea

Greek retail ringing alarm bells

In the meantime, the country’s retail sector is on the brink with many shops, restaurants, bars and cafes having remained closed for over two months at least.

According to the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen, and Merchants (GSEVEE) Institute, four in 10 businesses are facing bankruptcy and two in 10 have are only able to withstand one more month.

“Only 16 percent of all businesses have cash for more than a month. We have the hardest lockdown in the EU,” GSEVEE President George Kavvathas said, calling on the government to take clear and consistent measures and to support retailers.

“Every month of closed retail operations costs the Greek government approximately 2 billion euros,” said Kavvathas.

At the same time, employee unions are reporting increasing cases of Covid-19 infected staff, adding that current hygiene rules and checks are not being conducted at large supermarket chains, Greek public broadcaster ERT reported on Wednesday.

New or amended measures are expected to be announced on Friday after the weekly Covid-19 management meeting.

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About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and SETimes.com, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.
  1. Roy Ferguson Reply

    Cases do not always mean infection, labs go to 40 cycles for a positive test, while scientists say 0ver 25 cycles there is no infection or transmission of the virus.
    Labs making billions Governments should reduce the positive level to 25 cycles, you will then see a massive decrease in cases.

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