ATHENS – Greek health authorities are taking measures in case the deadly coronavirus that began in China appears, after tourists from the city of Wuhan where the disease began were allowed to leave Athens International Airport to go to Santorini.
The disease has infected thousands of people in China where several major cities are in lockdown, including Wuhan, from where the visitors to Greece came and were checked at Athens’ airport before going to Greece’s most popular, and overcrowded, island.
The National Organization of Public Health (EODY) issued directives for travelers that are being updated daily and also sent guidelines to the country’s airports, ports, hospitals and the EKAV ambulance service on how to spot and deal with infected or potentially infected individuals, said Kathimerini.
The capital’s Attikon and Sotiria hospitals have been assigned to deal with any cases related to the Wuhan virus – so named after the city where it first appeared – while the Pasteur Institute and the University of Athens do lab tests to check on it.
Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias met with Chinese Ambassador to Greece Zhang Qiyue to talk about what China is doing to stem the illness and spread of the coronavirus, including suspending trips in and out of the country.
China represents a major source of tourists and tourism money for Greece which has been on a record run for several years but it wasn’t said if Greek officials yet fear that worry over the illness will keep Chinese visitors away.
The meeting came a day after authorities at Athens International Airport intercepted a group of 15 travelers from China, seven from Wuhan, who were given medical tests before being released to continue their vacation although it wasn’t said whether the illness could lay dormant and spring up after a medical review.
Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang said some five million residents – nearly half its population – fled the city before it was placed on lockdown on Jan. 23, raising fears around the globe of the virus’ spread.
The virus appears to have originated from a Wuhan seafood market where wild animals, including marmots, birds, rabbits, bats and snakes, are traded unlawfully, part of China’s taste for exotic animals and foods.