Greece, spared in the spring, overwhelmed by the “tsunami” of the pandemic

In less than two weeks, the number of victims of the coronavirus jumped in Greece: “a tsunami” according to the conservative Prime Minister who, after having reacted quickly during the first wave of the pandemic, is now accused “of having delayed To stem the second.

• Read also: All developments in the COVID-19 pandemic

Since the end of October, the daily death toll has quadrupled to 42 deaths on Wednesday, and that of infections has doubled to nearly 3,000 in one day.

“The coming weeks will be extremely critical,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned Thursday during a heated parliamentary debate.

Faced with the deterioration of the situation, after partial confinement at the end of October, the country was reconfigured a week later, until November 30, the Greeks can no longer circulate without authorization sent by SMS.

And the government went up a notch Wednesday evening, with the imposition of a night curfew from 9:00 p.m. from Friday.

With a population of 10.9 million inhabitants, Greece has deplored since the start of the pandemic at the end of February, 909 deaths and 63,000 infections, the vast majority of which in the past four months.

Particularly affected, Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, where 32% of the inhabitants have tested positive for the coronavirus; “The health system is in the red”, according to the Minister of Health, Vassilis Kikilias.

Relatively spared until then, Greece had only ten cases per day during the deconfinement in early May. In mid-June, when the borders were gradually opened to tourists, the total number of deaths was 185 and that of contaminations 3,000, before starting a continuous escalation.

“Criminal negligence”

With an economy recovering from a decade of crisis and a recession expected at 10% this year, “the decision to reconfinement has been difficult” for Kyriakos Mitsotakis, at the helm of the country since July 2019.

But “in front of the tsunami, it was necessary (to build) a dike”, he underlined.

“+ The rapid tests + started earlier in Greece than in other European countries”, welcomed the conservative Prime Minister, in response to accusations of “negligence” by the opposition.

“There was criminal negligence,” criticized ex-Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, leader of Syriza, the main left-wing opposition party, accusing the government of allowing the arrival of tourists without taking any action. strict or without sufficiently strengthening the health system.

Like the majority of European countries, Greece fears a paralysis of its hospital system with endemic failures.

However, Kyriakos Mitsotakis is reassuring: “the number of intensive care beds has increased” as well as hospital and medical staff in recent months, he said.

The white coats, however, demonstrated Thursday in Greece. “Let’s break the silence. Hiring of permanent staff. Requisition of private clinics, ”read a banner displayed in front of a hospital in Thessaloniki.

During the first wave of the pandemic in March, the Greek government confined the country from the first death, to avoid the dramatic experience of neighboring Italy.

Welcoming then “having conquered the first wave of the pandemic”, the government had bet on “the return” of tourism, however imposing only random tests on European travelers.

It was only at the country’s land borders, during the increase in COVID-19 cases in neighboring Balkan countries, that negative test certificates became mandatory.

But for the Prime Minister, it is not the fault of tourism. For him, the spread of the virus in Greece, as in other European countries, is mainly due to non-compliance with social distancing “during the outings of young people”.

“Some have undermined the health of the majority,” he lambasted in front of the deputies, also referring to overwhelmed public transport.

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