Coronavirus Cases Rise, Greek Lockdown Could Last Through April

Αssociated Press

A municipal worker wearing a protective suit sprays disinfectant outside Acropolis museum as the Parthenon temple is seen in the background in Athens on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS – Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is said to be considering extending a partial lockdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus from April 6 to the end of the month as the number of cases – and people flouting the restrictions – both soar.

There were 743 cases, including 20 fatalities with fears both could jump despite closing down non-essential businesses and limiting people from leaving their homes, with reports that hundreds had been cited for flouting the lockdown as they did a previous voluntary quarantine that didn't work.

The government could keep the lockdown in force past the April 19 Easter date that would be muted, with churches already closed and gatherings limited to 10 people, even in private homes but with no word on how that would be enforced, especially for what is otherwise a holiday for families to get together.

Minister of State Giorgos Gerapetritis told SKAI TV that, “It is especially crucial to control the spread in the coming period until the end of April,” he said, indicating that the lockdown would be pushed back to April 30, at least, said Kathimerini.

He said the government is assessing the situation daily as the pandemic has spiraled out fo control around the world with some countries – notably the United States and United Kingdom – slow to react and reassuring their citizens all was well at first.

There are protocols that correspond to the extent of the cases,” he said without clafiying what that meant.

The government’s main adviser on the coronavirus, Sotiris Tsiodaras, said what happens will depend on the number of cases of those infected but also how the health care system can manage with intensive care units limited and the sector suffering years of budget cuts under austerity brought on by a crushing economic crisis.

Easter could be the litmus test if people violate the lockdown in big numbers, as they did the quarantine, which led Mitsotakis to bring down the hammer and chide what he said was a small minority whose behavior led to tougher measures.

There could also be further restrictions, Tsiodaras suggested, such as total isolation of people in vulnerable groups – the elderly are the highest risk – and a total shutdown of flights in and out of the country.

He also said while Greece hasn't been hit as hard as Italy that even if the situation improves that the lockdown could be extended as a precautionary measure.

He said that 74 percent of those intubated have underlying health issues that that epidemiological data shows as many as 8,000 to 10,000 people may be infected, with no way of knowing how many of them are still going out under the lockdown that allows trips to supermarkets, banks, pharmacies and other businesses open.