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Coronavirus Cases Hit 89 in Greece, All Schools Shut Down for Two Weeks

March 11, 2020

ATHENS – As Greece’s Health Ministry confirmed five more Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, bringing the total so far to 89 with fears it will spike, the American College said it would not operate for at least two days after a case was found there.

“The ACG campus in Aghia Paraskevi will remain closed for all students, faculty and staff for disinfection due to confirmed coronavirus case at Deree,” the college said in an announcement on its website, without specifying the nature of the case.

The five new cases involve four people who had come into contact with another coronavirus patient and an individual who recently traveled from London, said Kathimerini, with the ministry saying the condition of the 66-year-old man who contracted the virus while on a religious coach tour to Egypt and Israel had worsened.

His group had spread the virus in western Greece and health officials were said to be anxious about the new cases because they couldn’t be tracked to a carrier although the patients were being questioned about who they may have been in contact with.

A 40-year-old woman on the island of Lesbos, where a refugee and migrant detention center holding 20,000 people was called a major health risk was admitted to hospital after showing symptoms similar to the coronavirus, according to local media reports.

The woman, who recently traveled to Israel and Egypt as part of a religious group on a pilgrimage, was reportedly transferred to an isolation unit at the Hospital of Mytilene and her children kept home from school on March 9.

Greece Shuts down All Schools for Two Weeks

Greece shut down all schools for two weeks as of Wednesday, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias announced on Tuesday, as part of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections.

The closure affects all school levels, from daycare and kindergarten to university level, and includes all academic and technical institutions (TEI), private and public.

According to an informal communication by the Ministry of Education later, the measure includes private preparatory schools (“frondistiria”).

Kikilias said that special considerations would be provided for working parents and businesses affected by the measures. He also underlined that parents should limit their children’s activities outside home.

Earlier today, several elementary, middle and high schools across Greece decided to suspend classes over fears the virus will spread as the New Democracy government has only partially implemented a contingency plan to close public gathering spots.

The closings included the French, Italian and German schools, the American Community Schools, the Israeli elementary school, Athens College, Leontieos and dozens of other private as well as public schools across Attica and other parts of the country, the paper said.

Before the new cases were confirmed and as the number was at 84,  Health Ministry spokesman Sotiris Tsiodras told reporters that 81 were Greeks.

Forty-seven of the new cases took part in a group trip to religious sites in Israel and Egypt at the end of last month and another nine were people infected from contact with them, Tsiodras said.

For four of the new cases, no source of infection has been confirmed, he added. Apart from Attica and Thessaloniki, the coronavirus cases are located in Ileia, Achaia, Zakynthos, Evia and Lesbos, with 27 treated in hospitals and 57 told to stay home and said to be okay.

Tsiodras issued a “strong recommendation” to citizens belonging to vulnerable groups to avoid unnecessary trips home and abroad, particularly those over 70, who have heart and breathing problems or diabetes and taking medications to to suppress the immune system.

Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said people who have symptoms should stay home, especially if they exhibit a fever, cough and respiratory problems. “The next two months will be critical,” he said.

A new public awareness campaign for vulnerable social groups was begun with the message that, “We’re not scared. We protect ourselves. We stay at home.”

Health officials also said cultural events in closed venues that would hold more than 1,000 people would be cancelled without explaining why there wouldn’t be a likelihood of spreading the disease in crowds under that number.

In Pyrgos in the Peloponnese, a prosecutor launched an investigation after the local mayor, Panagiotis Antonakopoulos, said people in the religious group who came back with the disease were not in quarantine nor staying home, potentially exposing others.

Mitsotakis on teleconference by European Council leader Michel, EU states on coronavirus measures

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who just completed a meeting with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in Vienna on Tuesday, is scheduled to participate in a teleconference at 18.00 on coronavirus.

European Council President Charles Michel has asked leaders of EU member states to participate in a teleconference on coordinating measures against the coronavirus epidemic.

Mitsotakis will return from Austria later on Tuesday and is expected to announce further measures for the containment of coronavirus infections, public safety and financial repercussions of the epidemic.

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