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COVID-19 Jitters Soar in Greece As Cases Rise, Summer Travel Worries

ATHENS – With Greece already said to be in a second wave of COVID-19 as cases jumped over tourist entries and people not obeying health restrictions, fear is rising too that the pandemic won't go away anytime soon.

Showing no seasonal aspect and not burned off even by sweltering summer heat, the Coronavirus has shown resistance, with another 196 cases on Aug. 11 and more patients being put into Intensive Care Units (ICU's) said Kathimerini.

That coincides with the Aug. 15 religious holiday that is kind of a summer Easter for Greeks, those who haven't already traveled to village homes and islands making another exodus.

Health officials were said to be anxious that with so many people on the move that it could be hard to track and trace people who get infected, especially without a country-wide mobile phone app.

As of Aug. 11, there were 5,749 cases with a big jump in August after the country opened to most tourists in July, apart from some like the United States and Russia where cases are nearly out of control. 

Twenty-six patients remain intubated in intensive care units, still relatively low but showing a quadrupling since the beginning of August when cases started rising fast, also fueled by wild parties on islands.

Deputy Minister of Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias said Greece is in a critical period in the run-up to Aug. 15, and after imposing more measures to wear masks and social distancing, much of which has been ignored.

“This is what we need to do right now: Stop the spread of the virus with our behavior so that we are not faced in a few days with a strong second wave of the pandemic,” he said, the paper also reported.

Bars in restaurants in many areas must now close at midnight with no explanation why people packed in before that time wouldn't be exposed to the virus, with all catering and beverage distributions and canteens also affected.

Only delivery and takeaway services are excluded, which do not concern the availability of drinks. Violations could bring a 10,000 euro fine ($11,768.09) that some lucrative bars and restaurants are willing to pay although a second violation could see them shut for 20 days.

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