ATHENS – As if 2020 couldn't be worse, the COVID-19 pandemic that tore through Greece with the rest of the world came to an end with the island of Kalymnos locked down tight and the likelihood that other islands and regions hard hit could too.
Citing the latest data, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias warned it could happen in across the country, including the islands of Thassos and Lesbos – which is holding some 12,500 refugees and migrants – as well as Kozani, Kilkis, West Attica, Evros, Florina, Rodopi, and Xanthi.
On Kalymnos, the tighter measures go into effect New Year's Eve and will last at least until Jan. 9, two days after a general second lockdown across Greece is set to lift if cases are being held down enough.
While the number of cases appear low – just 12 – the ratio of the rise last week was very high, compared to the total population, authorities said, reported Kathimerini.
Local residents will be banned from leaving the island for all but health reasons and a curfew will be in place from 6 in the evening until 5 the next morning, with religious ceremonies banned and retail stores closed.
The Region of North Aegean and the municipality of Kalymnos will see to it that residents have all food and necessary supplies they need, such as medicine, and other emergency needs, the report said.
He told reporters that it was more critical than ever for people to follow health protocols, including wearing masks and staying safe social distances during a second more lenient lockdown scheduled to end Jan. 7, 2021.
But there's a chance that could be extended – it began Nov. 7 and was due to be lifted Dec. 7 but a second soaring wave prevented that – if the epidemiological numbers show it's not safe to let non-essential businesses open again.
There are signs that getting tougher during a lockdown softer than a first in the spring that lasted 10 weeks was paying as cases have gradually fallen from more than 3,000 a day earlier in the autumn to 942 on Dec. 30, bringing the total across the country to 137,918, including 22 at entry points.
There were also 58 deaths, raising that grim toll to 4,788 and 443 patients on ventilators in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) with 885 having recovered after receiving round-the-clock support from the staff.