Athens.- (GreekNewsOnline, AMNA, Reuters)
Greek authorities announced on Saturday the closure of nurseries and primary schools until the end of November, tightening a nationwide lockdown after a spike in COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile the Chief of the Greek Police issued a prohibition to gatherings larger than 4 people, from November 16-18. The order provides for heavy fines and aims to discourage the rallies in commemoration of the Polytechnic Revolt on November 17, 1973.
Greece has fared better than many other European countries in tackling the coronavirus, mainly due to an early nationwide lockdown imposed weeks after the pandemic broke out in February.
A gradual increase in infections since early October has forced authorities to reimpose restrictions and order a second nationwide lockdown, which expires at the end of November and includes a night curfew from 9 pm to 5 am.
On Saturday, the government tightened the measures further, closing primary schools and nurseries from Monday for two weeks until the end of the lockdown period. Distance learning has already been implemented in secondary schools and universities.
Greece confirmed 2,835 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, of which 15 were identified at the country’s entry points, said the National Public Health Organization (EODY).
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Greece reached 72,510 of which 4,622 relate to travel from abroad and 18,812 to already confirmed infection cases.
A total of 366 individuals are intubated. Their median age is 64 years, 80.9 pct have an underlying condition or are aged 70 or more and 112 of them are women. 370 have been discharged from ICUs since the start of the pandemic.
Finally, Greece also registered 38 new deaths, bringing coronavirus fatalities to 1,035 in total. The median age of all fatalities was 80 years, 96.8 pct had an underlying condition and/or were aged 70 or above while 416 of them were women.
Education Minister Niki Kerameus announced on Saturday that all primary schools and kindergartens will close from Monday 16 November until November 27. The pupils will continue their lessons via distance learning and educational television.
Kerameus said that the measures are “of precautionary character” as the epidemiological burden in schools is very low but they target the reduction of the adults’ mobilisation.
She said that the recent developments of the pandemic in Greece ” are such that make these measures necessary in order to jointly and with determination address the spread of the virus in Greece”.
Kerameus said that as last spring the tools of distance learning will be exploited in order to keep the education procedure alive “in these extremely difficult and unprecedented conditions”.
She also clarified that special needs education schools will remain open.
MITSOTAKIS – IERONYMOS
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Saturday visited the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos at the Archdiocese.
Government sources said that Mitsotakis briefed the Archbishop on the course of the pandemic and the government’s measures. They added that both Mitsotakis and the Archbishop agreed on the need to contribute with all our strength to the implementation of the measures by observing the health rules as it happened from the start of the pandemic.
They also expressed the optimism that the observation of the health rules and the improvement of the epidemiological data will allow us to celebrate Christmas in a different environment. “it is in our hands to follow the measures and to celebrate Christmas with the Churches open” underlined Mitsotakis.
On his part, the Archbishop added that “we all have the responsibility to protect the public health in order to be able to celebrate Christmas in our Churches”.
SYRIZA – KINAL
Even now the government continues without a plan, main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance said in an announcement on Saturday.
“The government opened the schools without any preparation, without mass COVID-19 tests and with many pupils in every classroom in the midst of the pandemic”.
“Until yesterday” SYRIZA said “Education Minister ruled out any possibility of closing the primary schools, claiming that there is no such recommendation by the scientists committee and today she announced the suspension of primary schools and kindergartens’ operation”.
The least this government should do is to prepare the schools, in the days of the lockdown, for their right opening, this time without new ludicrous palinodes, the main opposition party said.
Μovement for Change (KINAL) in an announcement on Saturday said that the pandemic is raging throughout Greece and accused the government of wait and see tactics.
“The government again with delay shuts down the primary schools and admits the mistake of excluding them from the general restriction measures” KINAL said adding that the schools in northern Greece should have closed many days ago.
Government’s wait and see continues with cost to lives and to the economy, KINAL said.
Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias urged again the people to observe the measures against the pandemic during his visit to the hospital of Halkida on Saturday.
Kikilias toured and inspected the hospital which has new ICU units. “We hired permanent staff and doctors for the ICUs. Today, we two patients with COVID from the city of Karditsa are being treated at Halkida hospital.
He finally expressed his optimism that we will soon pass to ‘a partial normality” with the distribution of the vaccine. “I understand that the people are tired but as long as we follow the measures, I believe that will exit the lockdown soon and we will be able to celebrate, according to the conditions, the Christmas holidays” Kikilias said.
A total of 2,500 mink infected with coronavirus will be euthanized in a farm in the Kozani region starting Saturday, a sector representative and a chief veterinarian told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) in northern Greece on Friday.
Vice president of the association for farmers of fur-bearing animals, Athanassios Lagas, and head of the Kozani Veterinary Service, Theofilos Gadzoglou, said that the mink were being raised in a farm in Kaloneri, municipality of Voion, Macedonia.
Lagas said the animals will be euthanized over two days and buried in trenches over four meters deep in an area designated by the relevant authorities. The farm in Kaloneri was set up in 2014, he added, and western Macedonia has nearly 84 farms raising furred animals. The entire mink population in the area is estimated at a million animals.
Gadzoglou pointed out that the veterinary services of western Macedonia region and Kozani region are continuing painstaking examination of the samples from dead and live animals in Kaloneri, to ensure that none of the infected animals has carried a variant strain of Covid-19. “This process will take between a week and ten days,” he told ANA-MPA.
Besides the owner of the Kaloneri farm, three more farmers in the Kozani region have tested positive to the virus and as many in Grevena, further south in Macedonia, after 120 rapid tests were done on Friday.
In Kastoria, 135 rapid tests showed that 9 farmers and workers in furred animal farms were positive to the coronavirus, Tsoukas said. Tests will also be carried out at a farm in Mesopotamia, where the owner tested positive to the novel coronavirus. Speaking to ANA-MPA, the president of Kastoria furriers Apostolos Tsoukas said that the farm contains 30,000 animals that “so far have shown no symptoms, so the likeliest outcome is that the coronavirus test will come out negative.”
According to a decision by the Agricultural Development & Food Ministry, “only animals ill with Covid-19 will be euthanized, and the measure shall not be applied across the board.” Minister Makis Voridis has ordered all related ministry services to be on the alert and follow developments closely, keeping in mind public health.