“Difficulties lie ahead of us and we have duty to warn the public that the next month will be very difficult” stated Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in an interview with Proto Thema newspaper on Sunday on the course of the coronavirus epidemic.
“We will have an increase of the cases and of the serious cases, some people will lose their lives, we should know that ” he underlined adding that “the most important is to limit the number of incidents, this is our priority”.
Referring to the government’s measures and to the citizens’ responsibility he said that no state can control the problem totally. What the state can do is to gradually assume more and more measures and to limit the social gatherings” he said and underlined “If all of us do the necessary things we will not become Italy”.
On the Church’s stance, he said “I understand the theological dimension of the matter… but I expect from the church to cooperate”.
“As prime minister I must warn of this danger and tell them that what exists for the public gatherings obviously exists for church”, he added.
On the measures for the support of the enterprises and the workers Mitsotakis said “The state will intervene with a number of measures to support the enterprises liquidity”.
Finally, on the closing of the borders (to migrants and refugees) he said that he would not allow a disorderly and irregular entrance of migrants and refugees.
The Health Ministry’s coronavirus spokesman and infectious diseases Professor Sotiris Tsiodras on Saturday evening briefed reporters on the latest figures regarding the spread of the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in Greece, the virus that causes the COVID-19 infection. He announced 38 new COVID-19 cases, which brings the coronavirus confirmed patients total in Greece to 228.
The Ministry of Health on Saturday also reported the deaths of a 90-year-old Greek man who was admitted with pneumonia in Ptolemais General Hospital on March 11, and of a 67-year-old man who was admitted in Zakynthos General Hospital on March 12. Both patients had serious underlying health issues and lost their lives to COVID-19, the infection caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
The 90-year-old man’s son and daughter-in-law are being treated in Ptolemais General Hospital’s negative pressure unit. Another person died on Sunday at the AHEPA Hospital in Thessaloniki.
Greece reported its first death from the new coronavirus on Thursday, a 66-year old man from the group of people who were infected during a trip to the Holy Lands. The patient had underlying health problems and was admitted to hospital on March 2.
Tsiodras reiterated the importance of avoiding crowding.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged Greek citizens to protect themselves against the coronavirus by staying indoors as much as is feasible, in a post on Twitter.
“We shut the door on the coronavirus and stay indoors as much as we can. Especially so if we belong in vulnerable groups, we should then be even more careful. We are protecting ourselves to protect the community,” he wrote.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Saturday chaired the daily broad interministerial meeting at Maximos Mansion on the latest developments relating to the spread of the coronavirus in Greece and the implementation of measures against it.
During the meeting it was emphasized that citizens need to be even more aware of the risk in overcrowding and to not neglect keeping distances in places such as super markets and public transport, while the latter should only operate at a safe 50 pct of capacity. It was also decided to stop all flights to and from Italy.
The reinforcement of the Health Ministry was also discussed, deciding to increase staff at the coronavirus advisory telephone line 1135, as were the actions taken for the supply of additional medical supplies, while the optimal coordination of municipalities to operate the ‘Home Aid’ program, which provides additional services to elderly people at home, was also discussed.
The course of strengthening the public health system with more doctors and nurses was given great emphasis: since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in Greece, 248 doctors and nurses have been hired and another 929 are in the process of being hired within the next week.
Starting on Sunday at 18.00 pm, citizens will be informed daily in a televised briefing by the Health Ministry’s coronavirus spokesman and infectious diseases Professor Sotiris Tsiodras and the Secretary General for Civil Protection, Nikos Chardalias.
The meeting was attended by Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias, Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Kostas Karamanlis, State Minister George Gerapetritis, Deputy Minister of Health Vassilis Kontozamanis, Deputy Prime Minister Akis Skertsos, Professor of Infectious Diseases Sotiris Tsiodras, General Secretary for Civil Protection Nikos Chardalias, Director of the Diplomatic Bureau of the Prime Minister Eleni Sourani and the Prime Minister’s General Secretary Grigoris Dimitriadis.
The Ministry of Development and Investments and the General Secretariat for Trade and Consumer Protection on Saturday announced the suspension of operation of all Sunday fairs and markets, including Easter and Christmas markets and any similar organized open-air markets, until further notice.
Explicit reference was made to the open-air markets at Schisto and Eleonas, Athens, where pets and other animals are regularly being sold.
THE SPOKESMAN’S WIFE
Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Friday his wife had tested positive to the coronavirus.
In a message posted on social media, Petsas said he himself had not contracted the virus, which is sweeping the world, but that his wife is in quarantine. Her health is good, he said.
The spokesman said he would continue to deliver the daily briefing to the press and would carry out his duties from a distance.
In his Facebook post, Petsas said the following (full text):
“My wife exhibited suspect symptoms and we thought it best that we both undergo tests for the coronavirus (COVID-19). The Pasteur Institute just concluded that I am negative to COVID-19, but my wife is positive. The children and I do not have any of the symptoms, while my wife is well and remains quarantined from the rest of the family. We will therefore #Stay_Home, for the next few days,” Petsas said, referring to the “Stay Home” campaign to limit the spread of the virus.
“I will continue to brief the press, to show up and to carry out the rest of my duties from a distance, either by phone and/or online,” he added. “We will all manage COVID-19 by following specialists’ advice and taking all measures of personal hygiene and protection.”
Tourism bookings for the period up to the end of May are certain to see a slump, the president of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Yiannis Retsos, stresses in an interview with Kathimerini.
He warns that Greek tourism enterprises are experiencing unprecedented conditions, and without any support from the state or the banks, the majority of them will go out of business, while stressing that the US decision for a 30-day ban on travel to Europe has significantly aggravated the situation.
Retsos does hope, however, that due to the extraordinary conditions, the European Union will make its rules regarding state subsidies more flexible.
“If the good scenario proves correct, the first half of the year will be difficult,
in the second half there will be a notable recovery,” the head of SETE predicts.