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Politics

Mitsotakis Says Greece Can Handle Second COVID-19 Wave in Autumn

ATHENS – Even if there's no vaccine, the deadly experience with the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic has made Greece prepared to deal with a potential returnin the autumn, Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

“We hope that even if the virus strikes, we will not need to take horizontal measures … We can be smarter in the measures we take,” referring to the lockdown he put in place on March 23 before a single fatality.

That was credited with holding down the number of cases and fatalities and gave Greece one of the best records in the world in dealing with the virus, with the lockdown on May 4 gradually easing until now being lifted with the virus still here.

He  told the Synthesis current affairs show that Greek society is better prepared despite widespread defiance and ignoring of post-lockdown health protocols including wild parties at beach clubs and people shunning masks and gloves and social distance.

Most important, the number of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds has risen significantly, thanks to donations and the Diaspora after a decade of health budget cuts under austerity to get three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($369.66 billion.)

He also said that health authorities will be “smarter” in testing and tracking, by taking more targeted measures to stop the spread of the virus although there were no special mobile apps and almost no testing, the lockdown applauded for holding down cases.

Asked whether he believed Greece would be lucky in fall and not face a second wave, he said: “I would not invest in luck. And I would certainly not leave the country unprepared in any way for the very serious possibility, the high probability, of the Coronavirus returning in some way in the fall or winter. But we will be more prepared.”

Already showing disdain for health protocols implemented to keep the COVID-19 Coronavirus from spreading after a lockdown was lifted, Greeks are in no mood to obey any more stay at home orders if it comes back .

While they were applauded for abiding by a first lockdown, a survey found they wouldn't again, tired of being locked up and not wanting to do it even if the virus comes back.

If COVID-19 comes back in the autumn, which chances there won't be a vaccine by then, only 21 percent favor the so-called “horizontal restrictions” of a second lockdown, being shut-ins having them lose their will to do it again.

Some 65 percent favor restrictions only in places where a spike in cases is recorded while 10 percent say that the state “must only give recommendations” to citizens and not confine them for any reason.

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