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Greece imposes a house lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus

Two women in Athens this Wednesday, next to a closed restaurant.PANTELIS SAITAS / EFE

The Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has decreed this Thursday the confinement of the entire country until the end of the month before the advance of the second wave of the pandemic, in line with the similar measures taken in other European countries. Just two days after the closure of restaurants and leisure in Athens came into force, Mitsotakis has said that the exponential increase in cases does not allow to limit the closure to these sectors. As of Saturday at 6:00 a.m. and until November 30, citizens of the entire country, even in areas that are not on alert for the spread of the virus, will only be able to go out if they go to work, to exercise or due to force majeure. In order to leave the home, they must send a text message to a government number with which they will obtain a pass. Kindergartens and primary schools will remain open, but secondary education will become remote. In addition, travel between regions will be prohibited and all shops will close except food stores, pharmacies and gas stations. Between 21:00 and 5:00 a curfew is established.

Mitsotakis has justified the need for the restrictions given the exponential increase that has been registered in recent days – “10,000 cases in five days” – coupled with a significant increase in hospitalizations and intubations. “If this continued, the pressure on public health would have become unsustainable in 15 days,” said the conservative leader at a press conference.

The cumulative incidence of the virus in Greece in the last two weeks per 100,000 inhabitants is 165.8 cases, according to the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC). It is well below other countries that have applied similar restrictions, such as France (853.6) or the United Kingdom (467.1). This index is also much higher in Spain (577.5), according to ECDC records. All the autonomous communities, except the Canary Islands, have higher incidents than the average registered in Greece.

This new state of almost total confinement already governs Thessaloniki, the second largest city in the country, since Tuesday, and for the moment, the numbers of infections and hospitalizations continue to increase.

2,646 cases in one day

Greece broke a new record for covid cases on Wednesday, registering 2,646 infections in one day, almost half a thousand more than this Tuesday, which had already been the worst day since the pandemic began eight months ago. The total number of notified cases thus rises to 46,892 and that of deaths to 673, after accounting for 18 new deaths in the last 24 hours. Although in absolute terms the number of cases does not seem worrisome considering that Greece has almost 11 million inhabitants, it is for a country with precarious public health after 10 years of crisis.

There are currently a total of 1,013 ICU beds throughout the country, of which 698 are occupied. Of the 348 beds reserved for covid-19 patients, 220 are occupied (63%). In the capital region of Attica, the occupancy rate is 72%.

Mitsotakis has promised that the state will financially support all affected citizens. Among the approved aid is to increase the subsidy from 534 to 800 euros for workers whose employment is suspended during this month, and 400 euros for all long-term unemployed.

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