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Politics

Petsas: Measures Will Intensify to Prevent Spread of Coronavirus in Greece

November 19, 2020

ATHENS — "The government sends its best wishes for the speedy recovery of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos," said government spokesperson Stelios Petsas, opening his briefing to the press on Thursday. "As you know, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with the Archbishop on Saturday, November 14. Both the archbishop and the prime minister had undergone COVID-19 tests, which were negative before their meeting. The prime minister took another test, which was also negative, before departing for the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday. The checking is constant, he is following all the health protocols and, with all the above, the experts' recommendation was that there was no reason that he should be placed in quarantine.

On the course of the pandemic in Greece, Petsas said that the situation remains crucial. He noted that the figures cited by the National Public Health Organisation on Wednedsday show that rates of positivity for coronavirus in many parts of northern Greece remain very high, especially when the area had been in a state of lockdown for weeks.

This proved that citizens in many parts of Greece were more relaxed about the protection measures than the situation demanded, Petsas said, adding that this relaxed attitude would lead to a delay in the lifting of the lockdown. The government, in order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the community, is adopting additional measures, he added.

In terms of the gateways into Greece by road, Petsas announced that from Friday at 06:00 the border post at Krystallopigi will close, with the border crossings at Kakavia, Evzones and Promachonas remaining open on the northern borders and only trucks allowed to pass through the Nymfea border post.

Those entering the country, apart from a mandatory negative COVID-19 test taken in the last 72 hours, will also undergo a rapid test administered by National Public Health Organisation teams, and only those found negative will be permitted to continue their trip to Greece and the destination listed on their Passenger Locator Form.

Secondly, concerning the epidemiological burden in northern Greece, he said that police checks on people's movements and in workplaces will intensify as the number of cases in the region remains high.

The government spokesperson once again appealed to the public to abide by the Covid-19 curbs in order to reduce the pressure on the health system and help the doctors and nurses to save lives.

"Let us abide by the measures that there is no delay in reopening the economy and social activity. Let us observe the measures, staying at home to stay safe," he said.

Petsas noted that the pressure on the national health system will continue in the coming days as the results of the previous weeks were now becoming apparent. He noted that the government was continuing to add ICUs to the system and remained ready to requisition beds in private clinics if necessary, while hiring the additional staff and arranging rapid training for available staff to assist in ICUs.

"Obviously, in conditions of war such as those we are facing, the country is operating as a single health region," he said.

"We all understand that there is a fatigue in society but now, after the daily announcements about effective vaccines, we see some light," Petsas said, noting that the global crisis was drawing to a close.

"Until then, let us continue the effort…let us avoid dangerous relaxation," he added, noting that Greece has already secured significant quantities of the vaccines and the health ministry has a plan for vaccinating the population. He said there will be 1018 vaccination centres throughout Greece that will be able to vaccinate 2,117,440 people a month.

In the field of economy, he said that the government's is proving in action that it cares and can support the most vulnerable groups and in this context "the government today announced a new package of measures" in continuation of the prime minister's recent announcements in parliament.

At this point, Petsas underlined that "the measures taken for the support of the economy in a situation of unprecedented health crisis are considered to be in the right direction by our European partners. Specifically, the 8th Enhanced Surveillance report was concluded on Wednesday. The report confirms that the government, despite the crisis, is continuing the reforms and underlined the contribution of the cohesive package of support measures for the households, totalling 24 billion euros for 2020, for the effective addressing of the economic repercussions of the pandemic and specifically the support of the people of labour, the support of liquidity in real economy and the invigoration of social cohesion".

Concluding his briefing, which was conducted online, the government spokesperson referred to national issues and underlined that "Greece took another important step in the context of its dynamic foreign policy with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' visit to the UAE on Wednesday, proving that it is already a force for stability, security and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean and builds strong strategic alliances that serve its position and its national interests."

Finally, Petsas announced that Mitsotakis will participate in the European Council teleconference on the pandemic on Thursday at 19:00.

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