ATHENS — Greece will ramp up the speed of its coronavirus vaccination drive, aiming to vaccinate about 8,000 people or more per day compared to the current 5,000 per day, the country's prime minister said Friday.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made the statement at the start of a government meeting on COVID-19. Greece began vaccinations with the Pfizer vaccine in late December, when the prime minister, the head of the opposition party and other top government and state officials were vaccinated.
According to the country's priority list, health care workers at public and private hospitals are first in line for shots against the virus, followed by care home residents and workers, people over age 80 and those with serious health conditions that make them vulnerable to COVID-19.
Doses have been rolled out to hospitals across Greece, with the last 19 hospitals on islands scheduled to join the vaccination drive on Jan. 11, Mitsotakis said.
So far, just over 26,000 people have received a first dose of the two-shot vaccine, according to government statistics. Greece has a population of around 11 million and has reported more than 142,700 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 5,146 deaths.
Mitsotakis expressed his "satisfaction for the fact that vaccinations in this country are proceeding at a satisfactory rate, methodically, safely, transparently and crucially without mistakes until today."
Separately, Greece's Civil Aviation Authority announced a new compulsory seven-day quarantine for any passenger flying into the country from abroad, including from European Union member countries, up to and including Jan. 21.
Passengers will also face spot rapid tests on arrival, while all are still required to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test a maximum of 72 hours before arrival, and fill in a passenger locator form.
Rapid tests on arrival are compulsory for passengers arriving from the United Kingdom, who will only be able to leave their quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19 at the end of the seven-day period, the announcement said.
The Civil Aviation Authority also announced an extension to the flight ban from Turkey and Spain's Catalonia region until Jan. 21, as well as the ban on arrivals for non-EU citizens except those from the UK, Singapore, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
Greece is currently under lockdown restrictions imposed in early November, with retail stores, entertainment venues and restaurants shut and people only allowed to leave their homes for a limited number of specific reasons. Primary schools and kindergartens are expected to reopen on Monday.