ATHENS – A tougher lockdown imposed on three areas of Greece after a softer lockdown didn't work to contain the spread of COVID-19 could be extended to other regions with signs the pandemic remains uncontrollable.
The New Democracy government, which implemented a quasi-lockdown on Nov. 7 that let people get out of their homes more – resulting in the Coronavirus taking off – indicated that it's ready to now get tougher, after soaring cases and deaths.
The three regions closed were in Western Attica outside the Greek capital and will see a curfew begin at 6 p.m. It had been 9 p.m. but was pushed back an hour to 10 p.m. in most areas to accommodate people for the Christmas through Epiphany Day holidays.
“A tougher lockdown should have been put in place, like the one imposed in March,” Athanasios Exadaktylos, President of the Panhellenic Medical Association and a member of the Health Ministry’s committee of experts, told SKAI radio.
He was referring to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ordering a shutdown of non-essential businesses on March 23 that lasted 10 weeks and partially contained the virus.
“The (second) lockdown was imposed when the virus had already spread out significantly,” Exadaktylos said, adding that existing restrictions were less stringent – admitted by Mitsotakis who said he waited too long for the second closings.
“A lockdown like the one implemented in March would have most likely been more effective more quickly,” said Exadaktylos.
It took only a few days for a further loosening of the lockdown for the holiday period to see COVID-19 roll through Western Attica, declaring an emergency action from the government that is balancing saving lives against the economy.
Deputy Minister of Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias announced the earlier curfew and the suspension of click-and-collect services at retail stores in the municipalities of Elefsina, Aspropyrgos and Mandra-Eidyllia.
Exadaktylos said the measures may have to be extended in other areas including Kozani in northern Greece which has been particularly wracked by the virus, especially Thessaloniki, the country's second-largest city and major port.
In its daily bulletin Dec. 17, the National Organization for Public Health (EODY) announced 78 deaths and 1,155 new inflections in the 24-hour period. The number of intubated patients stood at 542, close to the limit at many public hospitals where critical ill patients are on ventilators and private hospitals haven't been used yet.