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Greek Professor Warns Gatherings Could Bring COVID-19 Back Hard

Αssociated Press

Tables outside a closed restaurant in the traditional Plaka district of Athens. on Friday May 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS - With signs Greeks are widely ignoring health protocols aimed at preventing a new spreading of the COVID-19 Coronavirus as a lockdown is gradually being lifted, an infectious diseases expert said complacency could see it return and overtake the country.

“The virus is still here, unfortunately, and can make a sudden resurgence,” Nikolaos Sipsas, a professor at Athens University, told SKAI TV amid scenes of Greeks not wearing masks or gloves nor abiding by a social distancing requirement to stay 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) apart.

A lockdown imposed by the New Democracy government on March 23, slowly being lifting week by week starting May 4 with openings of more businesses, held down the number of cases and with 172 deaths by May 25, among the best records in the world.

But Sipsas said despite additional warnings from health experts working on a government advisory task force not to be complacent while trying to return to life as normally as possible that being lax could see the virus resurge fast and hard.

He noted scenes of massive crowds at public squares and popular nightlife spots in the past few weeks, saying that infections could easily spread in tight gatherings which had earlier this year been breeding grounds for the virus.

“I hope it won’t be bad,” Sipsas said, pointing to the case of Germany, which has seen as many as 150 new infections a day in parts of the country following the relaxation of lockdown measures.

“If the virus finds itself in a contained area, in a crowd for example, it can spread like wildfire, meaning that a single carrier will infect not just two or three people, but 10 or even 100 and they will go on to infect another 100,” Sipsas said, stressing the importance of social distancing rules.