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Greece Imposes Overland Entry Restrictions; Early Signs of Infection Trends Stabilizing

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(EUROKINISSI/SOTIRIS DIMITROPOULOS)

ATHENS - Greece imposed restrictions on overland entry points as of Friday morning, Civil Protection Deputy Minister for Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias said on Friday, during a live briefing on the coronavirus pandemic.

Hardalias announced that almost all overland border posts would allow entry only to Greek nationals, and between specific hours (e.g. 07:00 to 23:00). Trade-related transport would be allowed without restrictions except for a ban on passengers.

Speaking on infection rates, doctor Vana Papaevangelou said that in Attica Region and northern Greece they were showing a preliminary tendency to stabilize, but in other regions such as Thessaly, central Greece, there is a continuing rising trend.

Papaevangelou, a member of the Health ministry's specialists committee on the novel coronaviurs, said that Greece's overall viral load is high, and she advised more patience with the restriction and health measures. "It's a great mistake to relax vigilance just because somebody in our close circle has survived with mild or no symptoms," she said, "because the virus is unpredictable."

The health system will continue to feel the pressure, she added, for the next two weeks, and the number of people admitted to hospital and to intensive care units (ICUs) will continue to rise. Although Thessaloniki region's infection rate was higher than expected, she expressed the opinion that "we will not see similar spikes in Attica," the country's most populous region.

Doctor and fellow-member of the committee Gkikas Magiorkinis said that nearly all European countries were "in the red" in terms of infections, and noted that besides the "extremely heavy viral load in the north of the country, it has clear elements of local outbreaks." He also reiterated that Attica and Thessaloniki regions, the most burdened regions of the country, look like they are "exiting the exponential increase" trend. 

The age group that leads in the number of infections is the 45-65-year-olds, he said, while the age group of 19-39 was showing signs of stabilizing, with children's role in infections and spread of the virus being "secondary". It appears that the primary way of spreading in Greece is through the structure of the family, he noted, stressing that care should be particularly taken with older and more vulnerable members.

Responding to a question on data analysis in Britain, he said that supermarkets and schools were definitely not among the high-infection clusters.