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Record COVID Cases in Greece, Restrictions for Messinia, Crete Imposed

ATHENS – The COVID-19 pandemic in Greece is close to spiraling out of control with a record 4,608 cases on Aug. 24, some 15 times higher than earlier in the summer, the surge driven by the contagious Delta Variant and the unvaccinated.

Twenty three of the cases were found in tourists who tested positive on arrival although only those who are vaccinated, had a negative PCR test or proof of recovery from the Coronavirus can be admitted, indicating that Delta could be the reason. 

There were also 32 deaths after health officials said the unvaccinated are being targeted by Delta, dying, being hospitalized and with 326 on ventilators in public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) at two-thirds capacity and soaring.

The figures came from the National Organization for Public Health (EODY) which said it conducted 121,881 COVID tests in 24 hours, 23,867 PCR molecular tests and 98,014 rapid antigen tests, but there's no tracking and tracing method in use to find others likely infected to notify them.

There are breakouts around the country continuing as well as the New Democracy government, apart from health care workers, hasn't made vaccinations mandatory, even for tourism workers with the virus spreading on islands where all visitors are supposed to be COVID-free.

That has led to rolling restrictions being imposed, the latest in the Messinia region on the Peloponnese that includes the city of Kalamata, the area being put in a mini-lockdown although broader lockdowns have failed in other places because of the unvaccinated, people not wearing masks, public gatherings, wild parties and not observing safe social distances.

The restrictions will begin Aug. 27 and last at least until Sept. 1 depending on whether the cases fall with no explanation given why the measures weren't put in place immediately for public protection.

The General Secretariat for Civil Protection said there will be a curfew from 1-6 a.m. except for medical emergencies and night worker, and music will be banned at clubs, bars and cafés to prevent overcrowding, said Kathimerini.

Parties and other gatherings of more than 20 people are also forbidden, both in private and public setting, with fines from 50,000-200,000 euros ($58,826-$235,050) for violations.

The government is setting more restrictions as well for the unvaccinated and limiting public gatherings but has exempted the Greek Church with no explanation given why as churches are a mass meeting point.

The Civil Protection authority also announced that existing restrictions imposed on the Cretan regional units of Hania, Iraklio and Rethymno will remain in force. 

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