All eyes are on July 1, the day when Greece will begin to receive international arrivals at all its airports and ports. The state plan for sampling and health protocols on the islands is ready, but – as authorities admit – “we are moving into unknown waters.” Coronavirus cases have re-surged in several countries. Confirmed ‘imported cases are one-digit since the country opened on June 15. Citizens fear of an “explosion of new cases” and the country’s health experts are ringing the “alarm bell.’
What is caus of concern in Greece is that the new coronavirus cases in June do not concentrate in northern Greece but cases are beginning to appear also on the islands, thus “testing” the local health structures and the effectiveness of the government’s plan.
National Health Organization EODY announced on Saturday 23 new confirmed cases with 8 of them to have been located on flights’ passengers. Four imported cases have been located on the island of Syros that had been covid-free during the outbreak in Greece.
According to local information, the cases refer to a couple of French tourists and two foreign workers.
In the week June 20-27, a total of 132 new cases have been confirmed, with 1/3 to be “imported”. That it that they were detected at the two airports currently in operation in Athens and Thessaloniki and at the Promachonas border-crossing with Bulgaria.
According to news website in.gr, Professor of Virology Giorgos Sourvinos has expressed concern about the imported cases since opening the borders to some countries on June 15. Pointing out that the country has not yet fully opened its borders, he said that “on July 1 we will have the opening from many different countries and in many different parts of Greece.”
“What is of concern for us is that we have to know the source of the infections. There are mechanisms that can give us information about the origin and make a first check at the entrance gates that will give us an idea of the extent of the possible incoming cases that will be very important for the course of tourism.
“There is concern” about a possible new outbreak of coronavirus pandemic in several countries, said Professor for Infectious Diseases at the Medical School and member of the experts committee of the Health Ministry, Gkikas Mayiorkinis.
“We are seeing a second wave in the Balkans. There is a concern in Promachonas, because they come from many countries. It is the only entrance gate at the moment, by land. We don’t know where they come from, they don’t just come from Bulgaria, “he added.
All ready for July 1
Head of Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias has been inspecting airports on the Ionian islands and Crete in the last few days and seems content with the preparations and measures.
“The reception measures of the travelers, all the protocols have been completed, simulation exercises will run at all airports on Monday and Tuesday . Samples will be taken deliberately, through a process with a scientific background, so from the moment someone enters, we will know that the test should be done on the specific person,” Hardalias said.
The next big stage is the way we will deal with the new cases, Hardalias said adding that the country and its tourist destinations are full prepared.
July 1 Greece opens all regional airport on the mainland and the islands for international flights. it also opens its ports for international arrivals, meaning that tourists will start arriving from Italy as well.
On Saturday, the Civil Aviation Authority issued a notice according to which all passengers on international flights will have to fill a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) 48 hours prior to their check-in.