ATHENS – With once-busy streets in Greece’s capital showing less foot traffic and the New Democracy government advising people not to even go out for coffee, more measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus were put in place, including the two-week closure of theaters, courthouses, cinemas, gyms, playgrounds and clubs.
With 117 cases and one death so far, the government stepped up its scheme to hold down the virus, with more still in reserve, including closing down public gathering places with sports also sidelined and anxiety ramping up it could get worse.
The government was also trying to assess the possibly catastrophic economic damage if tourism takes a major hit after the United States banned people from 26 European countries and Americans advised to reconsider travel plans.
The containment plan, called Artemis, includes the likely opening of two new operational centers coordinated by the General Secretariat for Civil Protection, with a third in the process of being set up to have a supervisory role, said Kathimerini.
The crisis management mechanism will be implemented by the Attica Police Headquarters (GADA), the Fire Brigade Coordination Center and the Greek Police (ELAS) and a pool of 150 specially trained officers will staff GADA to track people who were in contact with confirmed cases and taking quarantine measures.
That was done as a Supreme Court prosecutor said anyone required to be in self-isolation in their homes who violates that and goes out into the public will be prosecuted in a criminal case because of the potential health hazard.
At the Fire Brigade Coordination Center, 70 officers who have attended a special training program in recent weeks will provide instructions for quarantine compliance and, baked on where the cases occur, the General Secretariat for Civil Protection will be able to launch plans to establish – if needed – outdoor or floating hospitals in areas where patients exceed the capacity of intensive care units at hospitals around the country.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told his ministers to come up with a plan to deal with the economic fallout that is already undercutting a slow recovery from a near decade-long crisis that required 326 billion euros ($364.05 billion) to stave off potential disaster.
Businesses hurt by the virus – those in Italy, the hardest-hit country in the European Union, were required to close – could get some government help which could further cut into revenue reserves and affect other social measures.
After confirmation of the first death, – a 66-year-old man who was infected during a religious pilgrimage to Egypt and Israel last month – government spokesman Stelios Petsas said that “the biggest challenge still lies ahead, and there will be large numbers of vulnerable and elderly people needing to be treated in intensive care.”