ATHENS – Greece’s move to reopen schools on Jan. 11 that were shut as part of a second lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 may not be safe, a leading member of the New Democracy government’s advisory panel of doctors and scientists said.
Some of the schools are in areas that are among the hardest-hit by the pandemic and have seen even stricter health measures in which most everything else is closed, the students possibly exposed if they attend classes.
Athanasios Exadaktylos, President of the Panhellenic Medical Association said there’s no consensus among surveys assessing how safe – or dangerous – that schools are in spreading the Coronavirus.
But he said that research in the United Kingdom, where the government refused to shut schools as the virus spread like a wildfire early on in the pandemic showed a variant of COVID-19 was rapidly transmitted between students.
Referring to public pressure for the reopening of schools, Exadaktylos said health experts can only say what is safe and what is not.
“If, as a society, we are willing to pay the price of not abiding by measures because we are tired, this is a decision for society to take,” he said.
“We as doctors cannot say it is safe, but nor is it up to us to say what needs to be closed and for how long.”
A second lockdown was imposed – too late admitted Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis – on Nov. 7 as a second wave of COVID-19 spread and was supposed to lift Dec. 7 but was extended because it was so lenient that the virus kept spreading.
It was extended to Jan. 7 along with allegedly tighter restrictions but now without saying has been pushed back again to Jan. 11, with even more restrictive conditions including temporary cessation of the click-and-collect method which allowed people to order online and pick up goods at stores.
Retailers and churches will be allowed to reopen along with schools on January 11, with the same health and social distancing rules that applied before the holidays, also said government spokesman Stelios Petsas.