Greece Goes Back to Briefings, Square One Over Rising COVID-19

August 25, 2020

ATHENS – Unable to stop soaring cases of COVID-19 or fully enforce health measures aimed at preventing its spread, Greece's New Democracy government will resume TV briefings – twice weekly – to convince people to conform.

That will bring back the team of Dr. Sotiris Tsiodras, a noted epidemiologist and University of Athens professor, with Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias, who appeared daily at 6 p.m. during the height of the pandemic.

That will coincide with more restrictions in areas around the country where cases have spiked although a hot spot, the island of Mykonos, won't be locked down as the government is still pushing tourism to counter losses during a long lockdown earlier this year.

There is special concern about the islands hosting tourists as well as in the capital of Athens and the surrounding area as despite added restrictions many people are still not wearing masks in public places nor staying a safe social distance of at least 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) apart.

Amid growing concern about the continuing upward trend in coronavirus infections in Greece, and the additional restrictions it has necessitated in parts of the country, the government has decided to reinstate televised briefings by its chief epidemiologist Sotiris Tsiodras and

Although the briefings will not be daily but twice a week, every Tuesday and Friday, they underscore the government’s concern about the rise in Covid-19 cases, particularly in Attica and on several islands.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis took a harder line after another record 284 cases on Aug. 23 worried scientists and doctors, although the number fell to 170 the next day, causing some relief.

At that point there were 8,819 cases, the numbers more than doubling just in August after an early lockdown that began March 23 and was gradually lifted week-by-week starting May 4 held down the infections and deaths.

The drop, however, was anticipated, said Kathimerini in a report, because fewer tests of people are done on weekends and the continued overall upward spiral has health officials anxious about the ongoing second wave, with 242 deaths.

Tighter measures were also put in place on the refugee-and-migrant overrun island of Lesbos near Turkey, holding more than 18,000 in the notorious Moria detention camp, and tougher requirements in Hania, on Crete, where cases rose.

The restrictions include curfews on bars, restaurants and nightclubs and a limit on the size of public and private gatherings although those haven't fully worked to hold down the jumping numbers.

Education Minister Niki Kerameus outlined measures for the reopening of schools that was set for Sept. 7 but could be delayed until Sept. 14 as the government gauges the outbreak.

All students and teachers will be obliged to wear a face mask indoors and also in outdoor areas if they are crowded, the paper said, with fabric masks provided free for them as their parents.

There are also plans for national health service EODY employees to carry out random diagnostic tests on schoolchildren in case there are any asymptomatic carriers but no plans for general school shutdowns if cases are found.


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