ATHENS — "As you know, the physical attendance of primary schools and kindergartens, as well as nurseries and day-care centres, throughout the country has been suspended for two weeks, as of today. However, it is absolutely clear that this suspension was not prompted by the epidemiological burden in schools, which remains low," government spokesperson Stelios Petsas said on Monday, during a press briefing.
"The problem, as the experts pointed out, is not transmission within the school environment but the intense mobility this results in among parents and grandparents taking their children to school, as well as the teachers and administrative staff," he added.
As of Wednesday, after the November 17 school holiday, there will be a resumption of e-learning for thislevel, which will be mandatory and take place from 14:00 until 17:00 for primary schools and from 14:00 to 16:20 for kindergartens.
It is noted that on Monday, public-sector employees who have at least one child up to 15 years old, can work either part-time, with 25 pct reduction of their hours, or work alternative hours that are agreed with their organisation or use the special-purpose leave.
Petsas also said that "similar measures will apply to working parents in the private sector."
Petsas noted that "despite the relatively better position of Greece compared with most other European countries, there is a significant hike in cases, those on ventilators and, unfortunately, deaths."
"We are moving on two levels: The first is to strengthen the health system to withstand the second big wave of the pandemic. At the moment, 1,170 ICU beds are in operation, compared to 557 left by the previous government. About half of these are ICUs for Covid-19 cases. We have already carried out more than 7,000 recruitments and we are proceeding with the emergency use of medical staff…two months ago, there were 930 beds in ICUs, of which 229 were available for the treatment of patients with Covid-19," he said.
"At the moment, as admissions to the country's hospitals are increasing, the health ministry is implementing a plan to increase ICU Covid-19 beds, as it did in the first phase of the pandemic.
"The second level is the immediate reduction of the spread of the coronavirus in the community, both because the new wave is much stronger than the first, and because we are all tired after eight and a half months of war against this invisible enemy. The next days are the most critical in our battle with the coronavirus and we need to be completely focused on our goal," the spokesperson added.
Greece has secured 25 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccines from the pre-purchases made by the European Commission and is proceeding with the planning of the vaccination, including of medical staff and vulnerable groups in the first phases, Petsas noted.
"Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias and the President of the National Vaccination Committee, Professor Maria Theodoridou, will brief representatives of the parties on Tuesday at 14.00 about the scientific breakthroughs in the development of covid-19 vaccines and how Greece will procure them through a common European mechanism. The vaccination plan of the population will also be presented and discussed," he said.
Petsas also referred to challenges posed by Turkey, noting: "After the new illegal Navtex for areas overlapping with the Greek continental shelf, Turkey yesterday proceeded with a new provocation against the Republic of Cyprus, but also against the European Union and the United Nations. With his presence at the military parade that took place in occupied Nicosia, on the occasion of the anniversary of the proclamation of the pseudo-state, the Turkish President highlighted the real dimension of the Cyprus problem, which is the continuing occupation of Cypriot territories. And his visit to the district of Varosha, enclosed and uninhabited since 1974, showed his provocative contempt for UN Security Council Resolutions 550 and 789, as well as the European Council's Conclusions."
Petsas stressed: "These actions constitute an escalation of Turkish delinquent behavior and will be discussed at the next European Council in December. Greece, as has been repeatedly emphasised, is in favour of the resumption of negotiations under the auspices of the UN Secretary General, in order to find a comprehensive, functional and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, based on the decisions of the Security Council and European rules."
He also referred to the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' schedule, announcing that: "Mr. Mitsotakis is going to pay a two-day visit, on Tuesday and Wednesday, to the United Arab Emirates."
He said the prime minister will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis and Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy Kostas Fragogiannis.
"Among other things, the integration of the United Arab Emirates into the trilateral regional cooperation schemes in which Greece participates will be discussed, as well as issues of promoting the strategic cooperation between the two countries in the fields of economy, investment and defence."