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Former Health Minister Kremastinos Dies of Coronavirus, Aged 78

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Former health minister and professor of cardiology, Dimitris Kremastinos. (Photo by Eurokinissi, file)

ATHENS - Former health minister and professor of cardiology, Dimitris Kremastinos, who had been hospitalised with Covid-19, died at the age of 78 on Friday morning.

Kremastinos had been admitted into Athens’ Evangelismos hospital with medical complications related to Covid-19 on March 26.

He served as a minister in PASOK governments, as vice-president of the Greek Parliament, as well as an MP for the Dodecanese islands with PASOK and the Democratic Coalition. He was also an Emeritus Professor of Cardiology at the University of Athens, Director of the Hellenic College of Cardiology, elected member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, President of the Hellenic Society of Cardiology and the Hellenic College of Cardiology as well as a director of Attica hospitals.

President of Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou expressed her deep sorrow over the death of Dimitris Kremastinos in a post on her Twitter account.

Sakellaropoulou, in her tweet, said that Kremastinos had served medical science and politics with consistency, kindness, modesty and good ethics and expressed her deep condolences to his relatives.

"The world of science and politics has lost a distinguished member today," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis posted on Twitter.

"In his long journey, Dimitris Kremastinos left a special imprint of dignity, responsibility and efficiency. Warm condolences to his family," he said.

The New Democracy party also tweeted a message about the loss of Kremastinos, a cardiology professor and former health minister in previous PASOK governments, expressing condolences to his family. "The death of @KremastinosD saddens us all. The deceased honoured science and politics with his career. Warm condolences to his family and relatives."

Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias expressed his condolences in a post on his personal Twitter account: "Dimitris Kremastinos, Professor of Medicine and former Health Minister, served the health sector with dignity and a sense of responsibility. Warm condolences to his family and to KINAL."

"We are saying goodbye today to Dimitris Kremastinos, a man who has served science, the parliament and the democratic wing," main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said on Friday in a post on social media.

Tsipras said that he was fortunate to have been able to meet Kremastinos in person and discern "the depth of his knowledge of science and academic issues, but also his sincere concern for the cooperation of the progressive forces in our country."

The leader of SYRIZA expressed his sincere condolences to the wife of the deceased and his family

The death of Dimitris Kremastinos fills us with grief, main opposition SYRIZA said in an announcement.

"Kremastinos' course in politics and in science was characterised by dignity and dedication to his duties. A professor of medicine at the Kapodistrian University of Athens and founding member of PASOK, Kremastinos fought during his term as health minister to strengthen the National Health System whose value was proved once again during the difficult days of the pandemic. This exceptional scientist and politician leaves as his legacy an important body of work for all society. We send our deep condolences to his family and his friends," SYRIZA said."

Opposition Movement for Change (KINAL) leader Fofi Gennimata also expressed her deep sorrow and sincere condolences to the family of cardiology professor and former minister Dimitris Kremastinos, who died on Friday after contracting Covid-19.

"Ηe was 'our doctor'. He was not just the man that stood by Andreas Papandreou (founder and leader of PASOK), but also the man who gained the trust of the Greeks through his constant social, scientific and academic presence, his reasearch and educational work, his activity in the biggest cardiological clinics of Greece and his term at the health ministry, where he helped strengthen the National Health Service," she said.

"The Greeks will remember him with love and respect. Our sincere condolences to his family," Gennimata said.

The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement expressed its grief over the loss of Dimitris Kremastinos, "an exceptional doctor, professor of cardiology and PASOK deputy for a number of years, parliament vice president and former health minister, who throughout his course, political and social, was modest and ethical".

KKE sent its deep condolences to Kremastinos' family and friends.

Already a leading cardiologist, Kremastinos became well-known in Greece when he became involved in the medical care of Papandreou, who spent the last months of his premiership critically ill before his death in 1996.

Born on May 1, 1942, Kremastinos grew up on the eastern Aegean island of Rhodes before studying medicine in the University of Athens and the University of London. Returning to his homeland, he set up a specialized cardiac intensive care unit in one of the Greek capital’s main public hospitals, and ran the cardiac department of the Athens General State Hospital and the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center.

Kremastinos was a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. He joined the center-left PASOK socialist party, which dominated Greek politics for more than 30 years, from its creation in 1974, and stuck with it as it changed in 2018 into KINAL.