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Hardalias Voices Concern for Rise of Coronavirus Cases in Northern Greece

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Deputy Civil Protection Minister for Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias in Ioannina. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Leonidas Bakolas)

KOZANI, Greece -- Deputy Civil Protection Minister for Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias expressed his concern on Saturday over the epidemiological picture of Kastoria, Thessaloniki and Ioannina, besides that of Kozani, where level-4 pandemic measures (a lockdown) were imposed on Friday for two weeks.

At a meeting in Kozani, the headquarters of Western Macedonia Region, Hardalias said the other three cities would not see similar restriction measures for the spread of coronavirus, but warned that "the situation is critical for the entire country." He called on residents to follow health measures as closely as possible, despite people's fatigue with them.

As he said, Kozani is where the first wave of the pandemic broke out in Greece in March, and "the second phase of the pandemic is also starting from the same region." He added however that just as Western Macedonia won the battle then, it can do so now.

Commenting on 20 infections identified as of October 1 at schools, he said schools were not infection clusters and asserted that "schools will continue to operate as usual," unless they turn into internal infection clusters. In all cases, he said, the government follows recommendations by epidemiologists.

Following his visit to Kozani, the minister left for Ioannina, which has been on red alert for a spike in infections.

Min. Hardalias appeals to residents of Yannena to help break rising trend of infections

Civil Protection Deputy Minister for Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias appealed to the residents of Ioannina (Yannena), a city with high epidemiological load right now, to keep to the preventative coronavirus measures "faithfully and in a disciplined manner" on Saturday.

"The situation is extremely critical, there is epidemiological pressure, and the next level up is both near and far," Hardalias said in a visit to the area, warning that getting to an emergency level would have repercussions on businesses and families.

"We must understand that yes, we do have a right to enjoy ourselves and to be relaxed, but in dangerous situations we must all realize that we need to stand back and start implementing the measures, avoiding needless movement," he said.

He said he was in daily contact with the regional director, the mayor and all related agencies. The minister also noted there were 256 active cases of infected people in Ioannina, with a rising trend, and that their immediate contacts in high risk of contracting the virus numbered 521, explaining why the city is high on the government's radar.