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“Lockdown in Attica” if restrictions don’t flatten the curve, signal Greek officials

Greek officials reiterated in the past hours the possibility of a lockdown should the latest measures do not decrease coronavirus infections and continue to put the health system under pressure, especially in Attica. Epidemiologists reportedly awaiting for the latest restrictions in force September 21 – October 4 to flatten the curve. If not a lockdown is possible in the region hosting some 5 million people.

Coronavirus cases increase on a daily basis especially in Attica and specifically in the center of Athens, authorities say.

“There is concern on two levels: For the first time in several months, there is pressure on the health system regarding the Intensive Care Units and that the number of cases remains relatively high, despite the recent measures taken. This combination makes experts think of many alternative measures we can take,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Tuesday.

Speaking to Thema FM, Petsas added that “since the beginning of the pandemic we have not ruled out the possibility of taking whatever action is needed, even a local lockdown, in order to bring down the curve and reduce the pressure on the health system.”

Petsas said that about half of the active cases in the country are in Attica. “Half of the cases in Attica are in the center of Athens with a very large participation of people with a refugee/migrant profile. We are fighting a battle there, with messages in their languages, with more controls in the area, so that we can control the spread in time,” he said.

Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias confirmed the pressure on the health system. Speaking to Alpha TV on Monday night, he said “now, with the pandemic on the rise, we have 99 vacant ICU beds in Attica. 37 are for Covid-19 patients and 62 for other cases.”

head of Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias has left open the possibility for new measures, additional measures, and even to active again the <sms> practice for those over 65 years old and vulnerable groups.

At a live briefing on Tuesday, Hardalias stressed that they try to avoid a lockdown which was impossible to be imposed at municipality level in such a big area as Attica.

Speaking to Skai TV on Tuesday, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said that “the Greek economy can endure a possible second lockdown.” He added that the government has not so far revised its estimate for an 8.0 pct economic recession this year. Here warned that there was serious uncertainty on this score, since the data changed on a weekly basis.

No matter whether the economic data have been revised or not, the problem is that thousands of people have been depending on a thin state aid of 534 euros for months either because businesses shut down or due to suspension of work contracts.

The Government definitely wants to avoid a new lockdown then, after all, the financial cost will be enormous and nobody can predict how the citizens will react.

PS Now the usual mean Greeks recall that it was the Government and the Prime Minister who were proudly heralding that they had “armored” the country health system in the first wave of the pandemic in spring. If I’m not wrong that was in May before the restrictions of the first lockdown were lifted and before the country opened its gates to tourism.

Yet, rather, blame the government and the health authorities for giving the people insufficient data on the course of the pandemic, and therefore triggering suspicion among the people.

Another interesting point to mention here is that mainstream media have adopted the Gov’t narrative to blame “young migrants” for the resurgence of the virus in Athens. A private TV channel claimed on Monday that “10%-15% of COVID-19 patients in ICU of a big hospital in the city were “young migrants.”

Official EODY data do not confirm such a claim.

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