Ten New Covid-19 Cases Diagnosed in Greece; Gov’t Hires 2000 Healthcare Professionals, 2 More Labs to Open

March 12, 2020

ATHENS – Ten new cases of Covid-19 have been diagnosed in Greece, the health ministry announced on Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 99, of which two are considered in serious condition and are being treated at AHEPA Hospital in Thessaloniki and Rio Hospital in Patras. Of the cases, 95 are Greeks and four are foreign nationals.

Health ministry to hire 2,000 healthcare professionals amidst coronavirus scare

The Ministry of Health on Wednesday announced the immediate hiring of some 2,000 healthcare professionals “to meet the growing needs of the health system,” said a ministry announcement.

According to the Ministry of Health “1,500 jobs are for nurses and 500 for auxiliary staff including ambulance crews, rescuers, paramedics, physiotherapists and others, in two-year contracts.

The decision comes as the country’s education system went into a two-week shutdown as a preventive measure against the coronavirus.

Two new labs for COVID-19 diagnosis to open Wed. at Attikon and Larissa U. Hospitals

Two new laboratories for coronavirus tests will start operating as of Thursday, at Attikon hospital in the Athens region and the University Hospital of Larissa, in central Greece.

They will bring the total number of laboratories dedicated to COVID-19 diagnoses to seven.

The others are the Pasteur Institute, the Athens University Medical School, the Thessaloniki University Medical School, the University General Hospital of Iraklio, and the University of Patras Hospital at Rio.

Public hospitals to carry out emergency operations only

The Ministry of Health on Wednesday announced that surgeries in public hospitals will now only carry out emergency operations and cases that cannot be postponed, while evening visits to hospital clinics are also suspended.

Greek Gov’t Spokesman Announces Special Purpose Leave from Work for Coronavirus

“The year 2020 will be a different year to what we expected,” government spokesperson Stelios Petsas said on Wednesday, during the daily press briefing.

Among others, Petsas referred to the introduction of a special-purpose leave from work specifically for the coronavirus, listing those that are eligible and providing other details.

He also said that the ministries involved are ready to take additional measures to stimulate the economy after the Eurogroup decisions are taken.

In the private sector, one third of the leave will be covered by the state budget.

In the public sector, the state will cover all the remuneration.

Public-sector workers are also given the option of flexible working hours, where this is possible, the spokesperson said.

He added that the government – as provided for in the Legislative Act – will fully support the health system in terms of emergency funding and to this end, the health ministry’s budget was been boosted by 15 million euros while new expenditure for hirings will also be made available. “Depending on developments, which are evaluated daily, the finance ministry will boost the health ministry’s budget with as many additional funds as needed,” he said.

At the same time, the government spokesperson stressed the need for coordinated action and agreement at an EU level.

SYRIZA’s Charitsis: We can’t play games with public health; no exceptions for the Church

“We can’t play games with public health,” stated main opposition SYRIZA spokesperson Alexis Charitsis on Thursday, urging Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to immediately impose protection measures and make no exceptions for the Church.

“Everywhere on the planet, governments are taking measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus, including the suspension or modification of religious ceremonies,” the main opposition spokesperson said, adding that “unfortunately Greece is the only country whose governement does not dare to say or do what is self-explanatory. To implement the protection measures with no exceptions.”

Charitsis said that it was not an issue of faith or piety but of social responsibility. “After the correct decision for the preventative closure of schools, we call on the prime minister… to also take immediate measures without exceptions for the Church,” adding that “every exception in practice nullifies the measures to prevent and contain the coronavirus epidemic.”

Gennimata: Measures against coronavirus without delays, hesitations or exceptions

Movement for Change (KINAL) leader Fofi Gennimata asked for additional measures against the spread of coronavirus in a statement on Wednesday.

“Our priority is human lives. All necessary measures should be taken immediately, without delays and hesitations and exceptions. The government and Europe must understand that there is now no place for huge surpluses and cuts, that it’s imperative for these to now change,” Gennimata said.


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