Greek authorities are trying to implement measures of social distancing in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus in Greece. On Saturday, there were 35 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Greece, health ministry spokesperson and infectious diseases expert Prof. Sotiris Tsiodras announced on Saturday, during the daily press briefing at the ministry. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Greece to 530, of which 98 are “community infections” of untraceable origin. Of these, 100 have been admitted to hospital, 18 are intubated and 19 have been discharged, while 13 people have died.
Deputy Minister for Civil Protection and Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias, on his part, noted that the next weeks will be absolutely crucial and that the government had taken all the measures required to protect human lives, while repeating an appeal to people to stay home.
The authorities’ biggest challenge is to stop a massive exodus of people from Athens to the rest of the mainland and the islands that would endanger a spread of the disease. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made another public intervention on Friday via video on Twitter, demanding that people help break the chain of contagion by showing individual responsibility and following the strict guidelines. Mitsotakis had earlier convened an emergency meeting of government officials which led to the announcement of restrictions on ferry travel to the islands after what was considered by authorities to be unjustified travel on Friday. A day earlier, Mitsotakis had stressed the dangers that the Greek islands face due to a lack of medical infrastructure.
Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said that from 6 a.m. Saturday, only permanent residents of Greek islands will be allowed to return, adding that the transport of supplies will be allowed to continue. Also, as of Saturday, private boats of all kinds will be banned from departing or docking at Greek ports, he said. Hardalias further announced stricter regulations for the operation of supermarkets, noting that as of Monday stores will have to keep to a limit of one customer per 15 square meters.
Based on figures released by the National Organisation for Public Health, of the 495 recorded cases of Covid-19 in Greece, 53.5 pct are men and 46.5 pct are women. Just over half are from the 40-64 years age group, while 24.2 pct are aged 18-39 and 20.7 pct are aged over 60. Only 4.4 pct of cases are aged between 0 and 17 years old.
The first epidemiological study published on the organisation’s official website shows that 23.6 pct of cases, or 117 in total, are still being treated in hospital and 26 have needed respiratory support and intubation.
The figures for the period up to March 20 show that the greatest number of cases, 213, is based in the Athens region and another 32 cases are in the broader Attica region.
Next highest on the list are Ilia (41 cases) and Kastoria (13), followed by Thessaloniki (10) and Achaia (nine), with smaller number of cases in other areas.
The National Organization for Medicines (EOF) is restricting the availability of a drug commonly used to combat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus following a spike in demand prompted by unconfirmed media reports that it can be effective against Covid-19.
Sold under the brand name Plaquenil, hydroxychloroquine will only be available for patients who have a special prescription and a note from their doctor certifying that they suffer from one of the illnesses it is intended to treat, EOF said.
According to the head of the Attica Pharmacists’ Association, Konstantinos Lourantos, demand for the drug has soared in recent days, when just 250 packets of Plaquenil were sold in the Greek capital in 2019.
Ieronymos urges faithful
to stay at home as act of love
The Church on Friday joined the state’s campaign urging people to stay home as part of the measures against the spread of the coronavirus with a statement by Archbishop Ieronymos who called on people to comply as an act of love.
“I stay home because I love others. I don’t stay home out of fear, but because I love,” he said in a message.
He added that even though the faithful can no longer attend services, they can turn their homes into a small church.
His statement came in the wake of the government’s decision earlier this week banning all church services, canceling out a vote by the Holy Synod to allow Sunday morning mass.
The Church had come under criticism in recent weeks over its apparent reluctance to fall in line with the government’s emergency measures.
Traffic jams at national highways and ports is “an act of irresponsibility before the emergency of the coronavirus pandemic,” SYRIZA said in a statement on Friday, warning that “instead of containing the virus, there is a dangerous likelihood it will spread beyond control.”
In a strong and unusual message to the public, the main opposition party called on all Greeks to “obey the rules and facts imposed by the urgent need to fight the coronavirus.”
It reiterated the official message that “the country is not on holiday mode, but at an extremely critical point in its future.”
The government, it added, needs to apply with great consistency all necessary measures to safeguard public health, “instead of announcing ahead of time decisions that lead to panic.”
visits health ministry
President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulos visited the health ministry on Saturday morning and met Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias.
She expressed her full support for the country’s doctors and nurses, thanking them for their tireless struggle against the coronavirus pandemic.
Kikilias briefed the president on the current spread of the virus in the Greek population and the actions the ministry is taking for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19 cases.
The president repeated her appeal to Greeks to assist healthcare staff in their work by strictly following the instructions of the experts and state authorities and abiding by the restrictions: “I am aware of the difficulties we all face but the restrictions imposed are absolutely essential in order to protect each other and especially those among us who are most at risk. It is the personal responsibility of each and every one of us to prove that we can emerge victorious from this ordeal.”