ATHENS – Greece’s New Democracy government ordered more measures to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus, including banning spectators at athletic matches and halting student trips within the country amid fears the situation will get worse.
Recreation and support centers for the elderly, one of the highest-risk groups, will be closed for two weeks, the same term for the suspension of school trips in the run-up to Easter with a contingency plan in place to close off public gathering spots as tourism’s high season looms.
There were 73 cases of the virus, now known as COVID-19, as of March 9 but health officials said it will grow with the apex expected by late April or early May, Angelos Hatzakis and Vana Sypsa, professors of epidemiology at Athens University, wrote in Kathimerini.
Conferences and conventions also won’t be allowed, another prime source of revenue and key to bringing in foreign business people for meetings and as the economic effect is being studied with worries it will undercut a nascent recovery from a long economic and austerity crisis.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias and other key cabinet ministers, as well as with health experts, to discuss how to deal with the almost certainty the virus will spread, especially in western Greece where members of a religious group who went to Israel and Egypt came back with the disease and infected others.
Also set to be implemented are emergency measures that have 15 hospitals on standby and the government planning to commandeer private clinics as well, with each of the facilities having two to four negative pressure chambers to treat patients in isolation.
The health ministry set up a telephone hotline, 1135, for information about the virus and said people should take measures especially frequent washing of hands.
Jenny Kremastinou, of the National School of Public Health, told the paper that people should take precautions when touching everyday items such as door handles (particularly on public transportation), TV remote controls, keyboards (particularly at bank ATMs,) elevator buttons and also bank notes.