ATHENS -- A recent spike in coronavirus cases in Greece is cause for concern, Sotiris Tsiodras, representative of the Health Ministry on the novel coronavirus, and Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias both said, in an extraordinary televised meeting on Tuesday.
Tuesday's numbers (121 cases from 77 on Monday) and the rising trend in confirmed infections prompted both officials to call anew for strict observation of the use of a mask in public and keeping social distances.
Tsiodras said that the increase is partly attributed to more checks being carried out, but also to people's ability to move freely after the lockdown and their tendency to crowd.
He noted however that there was no pressure on the health system so far, which could handle the rise, but noted that despite the summer attitude people should remain particularly vigilant, as cases have been rising globally again.
"We do not have to be here every afternoon, as we are not in lockdown," Hardalias said, referring to the frequent briefings that ended on May 26. "If you see us go live every day with Mr. Tsiodras, that means things have become difficult again."
Hardalias reiterated that the televised session was held because of "signs of concern" and because "we want to ask everyone to pay attention, and to describe clearly the situation and facts."
Restrictions at Kakavia borders and more frequent inspections in food factories
The new coronavirus-related measures that were announced on Tuesday by Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias during a televised briefing include restrictions on entry to Greece through the Kakavia border post with Albania, and continued restrictions on large gatherings.
Kakavia border will be shut down every night at 23:00 to the next morning at 07:00 in order to improve daily traffic control, Hardalias said. The measure will go into effect at 07:00 on Wednesday, and will be accompanied by staff permanently installed at the border for sample testing.
People entering Greece from Kakavia in Albania will be obliged as of August 16 to observe a preventative seven-day confinement at home.
Other measures Hardalias announced include the extension of a ban on more than 100 guests at social events through August, and more frequent inspections of food-processing and packing factories.
He also said that the Civil Protection secretariat will be able to restrict the hours of entertainment venues at local level, depending on the epidemiological threat.
"Relaxing vigilance and phenomena of observing measures loosely are the enemy in the battle against the pandemic," Hardalias stressed. This has led to many new outbreaks in several regions of Greece, he said, particularly at urban centers.
He also observed that "besides the low observation of measures, as a society we also have to fight irrational and conspiracy theories that undermine the social responsibility we must all show," and said that ahead of the major holiday of August 15, all health measures need to be observed.