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Economy

COVID-19 Soaring, Greece Scrambles for Containment, Gets Tougher

August 24, 2020

ATHENS – With COVID-19 spiraling almost out of control after defiance of health measures and tourists bringing infections with them, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis convened a critical meeting with his scientific team Aug. 24 to try to find some way to stop it from spreading around Greece.

The New Democracy leader was credited with holding down the number of case and fatalities after imposing an early lockdown March 23 before a single death but the gradual lifting week-by-week beginning May 4 and opening to tourists in July has seem the cases jump.

They spiked in August, with records being set almost daily, including 284 on Aug. 23, bringing the total to 8,664, and two deaths raising that grim toll to 242, the average age of those who died being 77 and getting the virus dropping to 39.

The epidemiological team and the Premier, along with Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias.will discuss additional restrictive measures, said Kathimerini, which would be more conditions after widespread defiance of wearing masks and keeping a safe social distance led to the big rise in cases.

Among issues on the table, the paper said, were local curfews similar to those imposed on the islands of Poros, Spetses and Antiparos and how to safely reopen schools, now set for Sept. 7.

More protocols were put in place on the island of Lesbos in the Eastern Aegean, home to the notorious Moria refugee and migrant detention camp where some cases have been reported but there hasn't been a mass outbreak.

The government, however, refuses to list how many cases there are on islands but said on Lesbos that cafes, restaurants, bars and nightclubs must close at midnight, as on the mainland, and set a limit of 50 people for social, religious or any other kinds of events or gatherings.

For the businesses that are affected, the Finance Ministry is allowing them to suspend work contracts for now.

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