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Despite COVID-19 Spike, Greece Won’t Tighten Health Measures

September 22, 2021

ATHENS — A persuasion campaign to get people vaccinated has largely failed, seeing the COVID-19 pandemic lingering in Greece, but the government won't make shots mandatory nor add more health restrictions.

New Health Minister Thanks Plevris, who has no experience in the field, dismissed any notion of getting tougher despite anti-vaxxers spreading the Coronavirus and the rise of the Delta Variant from India.

He also set aside worries from the government's advisory panel of doctors and scientists about a possible fourth wave of the Coronavirus in the autumn and warnings that children will be overwhelmed.

Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has turned his attention from the pandemic to boosting the economy and beating back criticism of his handling of the health crisis.

That has seen him require shots only for health care workers and no others, including teachers and staff in schools despite worries classes could be shut down if the Coronavirus spreads to more than half the students.

“We are here to inform,” Plevris said during a visit to the northern port city of Thessaloniki, a New Democracy stronghold where the government has nonetheless struggled to convince people to be inoculated, said Kathimerini.

Plevris and his deputy Mina Gaga – a physician who is also President of the European Respiratory Society – earlier met with local officials to brief them on the failing fight to beat back the pandemic that has rebounded.

That came after a parent disrupted the operation of a local school, threatening teachers and a school principal after his son was forbidden from going to class because he wouldn't wear a mask or product a negative self-test.

Only a little more than 56 percent of Greece's population of 10.7 million people has been fully vaccinated, far less than the 70 percent that health experts said is needed to slow the pandemic that could last into the autumn and beyond.

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