The measures taken against the coronavirus pandemic allow Greece to stay ahead of developments, said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in his meeting with medical staff at Ikaria hospital, his last stop at a group of three remote islands at Ikaria regional unit on Saturday.
“If some believe that these measures are strict,’ he told them, “it is only so that we can avoid taking even more severe measures later”, he added.
The Prime Minister expressed his satisfaction with progress in the unfolding national vaccinations program, and that “it is very important vaccine doses did not go amiss even in cases when people on the island did not keep up with their appointments.”
Mitsotakis then referred extensively to the opening of the country’s tourism this coming summer, mentioning first the promotion of the vaccination certificate, as well as the immunization of island inhabitants and workers in the tourism industry.
This “so-called ‘health passport’ will make it easier for those who are vaccinated to travel,” he said, “therefore we will have more visitors if we inoculate workers in hotels and tourist accommodations.”
Ikaria hospital officials told Mitsotakis that there are now 130 hospital employees, up 24 since last year, and discussed the imminent establishment of an artificial kidney unit there, so that patients do not have to be transported to Samos island’s hospital. Government sources later added that some 217,000 euros in European support funds have been allocated towards procuring medical equipment for Ikaria hospital.
After meeting with the island’s mayor and other mayoral officials, Mitsotakis referred to the significance of inoculating the inhabitants of all islands, especially the smaller ones.
"Concerning our small islands, we have decided to move horizontally and to vaccinate all adults, to demonstrate the significance we attach to these small islands”, underlined Mitsotakis, and continued: "The faster vaccinations are given to our fellow citizens employed in the broader tourism sector, and the more we advertise our islands as safe islands, the more we will benefit overall."
Ikaria’s two ports are now connected to the port of Piraeus “covering all the inhabitants’ needs”, highlighted the Prime Minister, while funding for remote islands was raised by 48 million euros to 138 million euros in 2020, was added.
Prior to visiting Ikaria, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the vaccination center at the remote island of Fournoi in the Aegean on Saturday.
“We are here to supervise the process of inoculation against the coronavirus, which began yesterday and will be completed today”, said the Prime Minister, who added he was pleased about the positive response of the island’s inhabitants to vaccines.
At Fournoi, where inhabitants barely exceed 1,000, Mitsotakis spoke with Mayor Dimitris Karydis, with whom he discussed the staffing of the local health clinic and the possibility of creating a hematology lab there.
"We will reduce the cost of living", stressed Mitsotakis, mentioning the reduction of property tax for small islands.
The prospect of building a museum of underwater antiquities was also considered, as 58 ancient shipwrecks have been discovered off the island over the last five years.
The improved ferry connection of Fournoi with Piraeus was also mentioned, as there are currently two routes per week in the winter and three in the summer, compared to one and two itineraries respectively in the past.
The Prime Minister walked to the port of Fournoi to be briefed on the northern pier’s expansion works -where larger vessels will be able to moor- and the construction of a fishing shelter.
The Prime Minister also visited the small remote island of Thymaina, which was the first stop of his visit to this small group of islands in the eastern Aegean’s Ikaria region.
There, the Prime Minister witnessed the island’s first vaccination, that of a 26-year-old man, after whom his 86-year-old grandfather was inoculated.
At his visit to the island’s primary school, young students asked for the repair of a 5×5 court and the creation of a playing ground.
It was the first time an active prime minister visited the small island of Thymaina, government sources later pointed out.
Mitsotakis was accompanied by Shipping & Island Policy Minister Giannis Plakiotakis and several more government officials.