Greece Locks Down Over COVID-19, Fourth Death Confirmed

A padlock is seen on the door of a closed cafe-restaurant, in Athens, Saturday, March 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

ATHENS – With the streets of Greece’s capital – along with those across the country – nearly empty as people stay indoors to stay away from contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus, the death of a fourth case was confirmed with fears the total will rise

The patient, a 53-year-old man, died early March 15, in Thessaloniki. He had been rushed to the AHEPA hospital from Kozani in critical condition five days earlier, said Kathimerini. He was the youngest fatality and, like the other three, had a serious underlying disease.

There were a reported 45 arrests for people violating health protection regulations that required the shutting of school test preparatory schools, restaurants, theaters, cinemas and athletic venues.

Scottish actor Gerard Butler, star of the film 300 about Spartan King Leonidas and 300 Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae, tried to raise spirits as he came to carry the Olympic torch, delighting a crowd by yelling his famous line, “This is Sparta!” before the rely was carried off to prevent people from gathering to watch it near the site of the ancient city.

With once-busy streets in Greece’s capital showing less foot traffic and the New Democracy government advising people not to even go out for coffee, more measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus were put in place, including the two-week closure of theaters, courthouses, cinemas, gyms, playgrounds and clubs.

With 228 cases so far, the government stepped up its scheme to hold down the virus, with more still in reserve, including closing down public gathering places with sports also sidelined and anxiety ramping up it could get worse.

The government was also trying to assess the possibly catastrophic economic damage if tourism takes a major hit after the United States banned people from 26 European countries and Americans advised to reconsider travel plans.

The containment plan, called Artemis, includes the likely opening of two new operational centers coordinated by the General Secretariat for Civil Protection, with a third in the process of being set up to have a supervisory role, said Kathimerini.

The crisis management mechanism will be implemented by the Attica Police Headquarters (GADA), the Fire Brigade Coordination Center and the Greek Police (ELAS) and a pool of 150 specially trained officers will staff GADA to track people who were in contact with confirmed cases and taking quarantine measures.

That was done as a Supreme Court prosecutor said anyone required to be in self-isolation in their homes who violates that and goes out into the public will be prosecuted in a criminal case because of the potential health hazard.

At the Fire Brigade Coordination Center, 70 officers who have attended a special training program in recent weeks will provide instructions for quarantine compliance and, baked on where the cases occur, the General Secretariat for Civil Protection will be able to launch plans to establish – if needed – outdoor or floating hospitals in areas where patients exceed the capacity of intensive care units at hospitals around the country.

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