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Politics

Hardalias: Pandemic Called for Building Long-Lasting Health Structures, Fast

ATHENS — Dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic with horizontal measures as a model will likely not be used in the future again on the likelihood of a resurgence, Civil Protection Deputy Minister for Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias said at Delphi Economic Forum on Wednesday.

That first stage of across-the-board lockdown measures and the gradual shutting down of the market Greece took in March will be replaced by actions primarily targeted at local level, or a particular theme, Hardalias said. "We are trying hard to prevent problems, and preparing to avoid having issues, but if something crops up our criteria will clearly and primarily be local or thematic," he explained.

The government's focus was to follow the recommendations of specialists, he said, a choice that played a key role in managing the health crisis.

"Greece was called upon to crate – in uncharted territory – structures that had to become permanent, particularly in terms of civil protection since we had challenges in the past, but none like that of COVID-19," the minister said. "We had to deal with influenza at one end and Ebola at the other, but COVID-19 has unique features and its spatial involvement was global – it was something, in other words, that nobody expected would operate like it did."

The government's plans focused on "clear operational priorities: human lives, human property, and the natural environment," said Hardalias, whose department had to deal with the brunt of implementing restriction decisions and announcing them to the public through daily briefings with doctor Sotiris Tsiodras.

Globally, the crisis raised the issue of leadership, he pointed out, and "though it may not have necessarily brought to light a new type of leader, it brought us closer to the ideal," which includes a leader with decisiveness, fast reflexes, "and how much you can inspire the public to follow" you. Public trust is something that must be built "step by step", he added.

Asked how prepared the country was for the possibility of a second wave of the pandemic, Hardalias said that public health and human lives remain a priority. "We continue step by step to open the market under the proper rules, and at the same time to create such structures that if a second wave comes tomorrow, Greece (…) and Greek citizens will feel and actually be safe."

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