Covid-19: Greek Health Experts Put Re-opening of Retail, Schools High on Agenda
The Greek Health Ministry’s committee of experts is considering which activities will restart in Greece once new cases and the admissions of coronavirus (Covid-19) patients to hospitals begin to show a decline, Vana Papaevaggelou, infectious diseases specialist, said on Friday.
Her statement came after the National Public Health Organization (EODY) announced 1,496 new coronavirus cases, 707 intubated patients and 53 deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, the total number of cases in Greece has reached 249,458 with the death toll now at 7,754.
“Nobody likes to open and close activities. We want to proceed with a gradual opening based on the risk of each activity,” she stressed, adding that “this way we can keep an activity open for a long time without setbacks”.
The Greek government had initially set March 29 as a re-opening date but then reconsidered due to an upsurge in Covid-19 cases.
The Covid-19 committee of experts is now scheduled to meet again next week and specifically discuss the reopening of retail and schools, as well as allowing movement between municipalities. Announcements may possibly be made by the end of the week.
Papaevaggelou, who is also a member of the Covid-19 health committee, said that business activities with outdoor areas are being considered to reopen as the weather is now improving in Greece.
She added that the committee is considering the use of “double masks” or stricter protection measures for indoor areas where there is increased crowding – a situation that is considered particularly dangerous in terms of the virus spreading.
The infectious diseases specialist also referred to the government’s plan to launch a Covid-19 self-testing strategy to help limit the spread of the virus and lead to the safe restart of certain business activities.
She highlighted that home testing once a week will significantly help in detecting asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic carriers of the coronvirus. “This will result in preventing the spread right from the start with proper tracing,” she said.
More ‘dark red’ areas on Covid-19 map
During the same briefing, Greek Civil Protection Deputy Minister Nikos Hardalias announced that five more areas in Greece have moved to Covid-19 ‘dark red’ level (very high-risk) on the country’s coronavirus risk-assessment map, due to a rise in cases.
As of Saturday, March 27, the regional units of Kozani and Pella; and the municipalities of Grevena, Kilkis and Veria will be in a stricter lockdown.
Hardalias added that all other areas in Greece already in ‘dark red’ for now will remain at that risk level. These areas are:
– the region of Attica (which includes central Athens)
– the regional units of Etoloakarnania and Achaia of the region of Western Greece
– the regional units of Viotia, Evia (except the municipality of Skyros), Fthiotida and Evritania of the region of Central Greece
– the regional units of Argolida, Arcadia and Corinth of the region of Peloponnese
– the regional units of Thessaloniki and Halkidiki of the region of Central Macedonia
– the regional unit of Thesprotia of the region of Epirus
– the regional unit of Heraklion of the region of Crete
– the regional unit of Samos and Lesvos of the region of North Aegean
– the regional unit of Zakynthos of the region of Ionian Islands
– the regional unit of Mykonos of the region of South Aegean
– the municipality of Kalymnos of the regional unit of Kalymnos
– the municipality of Chios of the regional unit of Chios
– the municipality of Anogia of the regional unit of Rethymnon
– the municipality of Chania of the regional unit of Chania
– the municipalities of Ioannina and Metsovo of the regional unit of Ioannina
– the municipality of Katerini of the regional unit of Pieria
– the municipality of Amphipoli of the regional unit of Serres
– the municipality of Skiathos
– the municipality of Karditsa
– the municipalities of Kastoria and Orestiada of the regional unit of Kastoria
Hardalias added that if the epidemiological situation in Evritania, Arcadia, Chios, Anogia and Skiathos continues to show an improvement in the coming days, those areas will move to ‘red’ status (high-risk) on Greece’s risk-assessment map.
For further information (in Greek) on the restrictive measures in ‘red’ and ‘dark red’ areas, press here. The map is updated every week.
The deputy minister also touched on the subject of self-testing for the coronavirus.
“The complementary strategy of self-testing creates a new framework that allows the restart of activities, in a different, safer, environment. It creates new possibilities. It is a weapon that we did not have previously at our disposal,” he said.