ATHENS — Greece has been experiencing an explosive rate of coronavirus infections, authorities said on Tuesday, with 26 regions in "red alert", particularly in Thessaloniki and Serres, which were placed under full lockdown for the next two weeks.
New coronavirus cases on Tuesday reached 2,166. Of these, 22 relate to clusters, and 40 were identified at entry points to the country.
The total infections in Greece since the start of the pandemic are 44,246. Of these, 4,225 relate to travel abroad and 14,111 relate to known cases.
Intubated patients remained high in hospitals, with 169 people in ICUs. Their median age is 65 years old, 89.3 pct have an underlying condition or are 70 years or more, while 38 are women.
Another 300 have been discharged by ICUs since the start of the pandemic.
The National Public Health Organization also said that there were another 13 fatalities, bringing Greece's total to 655. Of the deceased, their median age was 79 years old and 96. pct had an underlying condition and/or age 70 or more; 255 were women.grea
Geographic distributions showed that most of the infections were in the regions of Attica (542) and Thessaloniki (595). Also noting high, three-digit daily infections on Tuesday were the regions of Rodopi (108) and Larissa (106). Regions with infections showing between 42 and 60 infections on Tuesday included the following: Kavala and Pieria (32 each), Chalkidiki peninsula (38), Serres (37), Evros (42), Drama (46), Messinia (51), and Imathia (53). Pella cases rose to 78.
Ioannina, Kastoria and Kozani, which recently recorded high daily infection rates, managed to limit the pandemic's spread and on Tuesday recorded 27, 8 and 22 infections, respectively.
Greece imposed a lockdown on its second largest city, Thessaloniki, and the neighboring northern province of Serres beginning Tuesday. Residents can only leave their homes for specific reasons after notifying authorities by text message.
Domestic and international flights to Thessaloniki were cancelled and retail stores, restaurants, gyms, churches and entertainment venues were ordered to shut down for two weeks. Primary and junior high schools remain open, but the final grades of high school and universities will be taught online.
“What happened is necessary,” said 39-year-old Thessaloniki resident Angelos Georgiadis. “We got to a lockdown because of having fun, the cafes were packed. Now we wish and hope we get over this quickly.”
Lighter restrictions took effect in the Greek capital, Athens, where restaurants, bars, cafes, gyms, museums and entertainment venues shut down for two weeks. Only individual sports are allowed outdoors, but retail stores remain open.
Nationwide, the Greek government imposed a midnight to 5 a.m. curfew and made masks compulsory outdoors.
Across Europe, countries have been re-introducing restrictions to get ahead of a virus that has rampaged across the globe, causing more than 1.2 million deaths — over 270,000 of them in Europe, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)