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Greek Coronavirus Cases Rise by 21 to 352 with 51 Cases Undetermined

Αssociated press

An elderly man walks in Monastiraki square, usually the most crowded area in central Athens, Monday, March 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS - Greece’s total number of confirmed infections of COVID-19 is now 352, said the Health Ministry’s coronavirus spokesman and infectious diseases Professor Sotiris Tsiodras at the daily briefing to reporters on Monday.

Tsiodras said that there were 21 new cases since Sunday.

The source of infection for 51 cases is undetermined, he added. Of the total 352, 65 patients are hospitalized in Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras, and of these 9 are in Intensive Care Units.

Ten patients have so far been discharged from the start of the virus cases in Greece.

So far a total of 4,320 samples have been tested for coronavirus, the professor noted.

Globally, confirmed cases exceed 175,000, with 6,700 deaths from COVID-19, which is caused by the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. In Greece so far there have been 4 deaths.

Tsiodras said that the health system would be funded by an additional 15 million euros for the procurement of supplies, besides the 75 million euros that are earmarked for the hiring and contracts of 2,000 health practitioners, whose applications are being currently reviewed under emergency measures. The epidemiologist said 950 had already been hired. In certain hospitals (NIMTS, Pammakaristos, Agia Varvara hospital and the private hospital Attika) whole wings will be dedicated exclusively to COVID-19 cases.

Asked to comment on his briefing of the Standing Holy Synod, to which he was invited by the Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece today (March 16), Tsiodras said the government and health experts "expressed our concern about gathering in the churches, and I requested that the churches not become hubs of virus transmission."

The briefing was also attended by newly-appointed Civil Protection Deputy Minister Nikos Chardalias, who said that two villages in the Kozani region of northern Greece, Damaskinia and Dragasia, had been placed in lock-down for 14 days, as they were a focal point of coronavirus infections. "We shall examine the use of this measure in greater units if necessary," Chardalias said, adding that health services in the region were supplelmented by army and fire brigade specialists.

Everyone who returns to Greece from abroad, the deputy minister said in addition, will be obliged to go on a two-week quarantine, and face repercussions if they violate this obligation. Asked if Athens to London flights would stop, he said that "all options are open, we take it day by day, as factors keep changing."

He also called on the public to take a lead in personal responsibility at home, at work and in their neighborhood in general.