Tsipras Meets with President Sakellaropoulou

ATHENS — Following a meeting with President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Friday, main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras said that the political leaders' council chaired by the president must be convened immediately, with the participation of the expert committee on the pandemic, so that there can be a full briefing on the current state in Greece regarding Covid-19 and a discussion on a plan to address it.

Tsipras said he had presented his proposals for dealing with the pandemic, which he also put before the prime minister "with a sense of responsibility and an expectation that, even at the last minute, he will set aside 'I' in favour of 'us', in the face of the need to boost protection for public health."

"Otherwise, it is clear that he will also assume responsibility for anything that may happen in relation to the pandemic's course in our country," he added.

The main opposition leader said that he had also spoken to the president about his deep concern regarding the course of the pandemic and its handling in Greece. "The government and Mr. Mitsotakis appear to have lost control and, unfortunately, it is all the scientists who are sounding the alarm and warning that, not only can we not afford to be complacent but that the worst is yet to come," he added, emphasising that a plan was required.

Pointing out that, since November, the death rate from Covid-19 in Greece was one of the worst in Europe and the world relative to the population, Tsipras noted that the main opposition had an obligation to also submit proposals when public health and human lives were at stake.

"I presented to the president and I also present publicly, not only my concern over developments but also the need for a plan that has a beginning, middle and end," Tsipras said, stressing that the national health system must be strengthened even now, by requisitioning private clinics to prepare for a possible third wave of the pandemic, prescribing testing and carrying out mass testing throughout the country to detect clusters spreading the virus, as well as by accelerating vaccination.

Tsipras said the vaccination was proceeding too slowly while the number of doses secured via the European Union were not enough: "if we continue at this pace, it is certain that we won't have the required immunity in the community to protect ourselves even this time next year."

He said the country should undertake an initiative in the EU to secure the patents for the vaccines and allow each member-state to handle it using the capacity of domestic pharmaceutical firms, so that they are made quickly and in quantities sufficient to vaccinate the population of each EU country. If this was not possible, he added, the government should also seek solutions through bilateral agreements outside an EU framework, with companies and countries with mass production of the vaccine, so that there are enough to protect the population.



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