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Greece’s Nervous COVID-19 Focus, Checks Turn to Thessaloniki

Greece's unabating COVID-19 pandemic has seen one region locked down, cases spreading in the capital Athens and now worry that it's getting worse in the second-biggest city and major port of Thessaloniki.

Health officials said checks for the virus will be picked up there in another attempt to hold down the spread of the Coronavirus that shows no signs of pulling back seven months after it began.

There were more than 400 cases in the city in the 10 days leading up to Oct. 19, including 49 that day, showing a worrying spike despite new restrictions on wearing masks in public gathering places. 

The increase has put Thessaloniki at risk of entering the alert category of 2 or 3, with 4 being the highest, leading to the decision for more inspections on compliance as many people still aren't wearing masks or keeping a safe social distance of at least 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) from others.

The move came after chief epidemiologist Sotiris Tsiodras briefed Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of the situation in Thessaloniki, said Kathimerini, where it was said there were also concerns about Attica, which had 175 of the country's 438 cases on Oct. 19.

The number of cases hit 25,802 with the death toll at 520 after 11 more fatalities, the numbers rising, a task force of scientists and epidemiologists said, because of outdoor parties and gatherings and bars and clubs ignoring rules.

There are also serious worries about an increasing number of infections in retirement homes as elderly patients have fewer chances of survival, among the most susceptible along with those who have underlying conditions.

Mitsotakis visited Athens' Sotiria Hospital to inaugurate 50 new intensive care beds, paid by the state, while donations from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and other benefactors – apart from Greece's super-rich shipping oligarchs – is seeing more Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds to be added, he said.

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