Greek authorities have asked the public to remain calm and not panic as neighboring Italy struggles to cope with the unexpected and dramatic rise of coronavirus cases over the last two to three days.
Speaking with reporters on Monday, Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias called on the public, as well as all those involved in the country’s infectious disease protection preparations, to show ”calm, seriousness and professionalism.”
According to the Italian state-run RAI television, seven people have now died in the country due to the virus, while the number of confirmed cases in Italy has risen well above the threshold of 200.
Greece’s flagship carrier airline AEGEAN announced on Monday that it will reimburse all those who have already bought tickets to fly to Italy. However, it also discouraged any additional individuals from visiting the country due to the sudden and dramatic outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Despite this warning, the company does not intend to cancel its flights between Greece and Italy — at least for now.
It is noted that an EU-level response to the virus outbreak will be issued in the coming days, but all sides agree that there is no reason, for now, for people to stop traveling to this beautiful country.
The @EU_Commission is working around the clock to support Member States in their preparation and containment measures against #COVID19. This week, a joint @WHO and @ECDC_EU expert mission will go to Italy to provide support and expertise to Italian authorities on the ground. pic.twitter.com/q1qQz9tJSM
— Stella Kyriakides (@SKyriakidesEU) February 24, 2020
European Union Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said on Monday that possible travel restrictions in the border-free Schengen area of the EU should be proportionate and coordinated among all EU states.
Greek Authorities Call for Calm
The Greek public is justifiably extremely worried about the sudden and unexpected outbreak in neighboring Italy, which is one of Greece’s most popular nearby travel destinations.
Protective masks have almost vanished from the Greek market since thousands, if not millions, of people have rushed to buy them.
Apostolos Valtas, the President of the Panhellenic Pharmaceutical Association, lent his voice on Monday to the call for the public to remain calm, since such behavior could prove dangerous for our fellow citizens who are in the more sensitive population groups.
”People don’t ask for one or two masks, but a whole box,” he told reporters, complaining that this is not the optimal behavior consumers should be exhibiting at a time when these masks are not easily found.
Ενημέρωσα μαζί με τους συναρμόδιους Υπουργούς τον Πρωθυπουργό, για τα επιδημιολογικά δεδομένα του νέου κορονοϊού, τις γεωγραφικές-επιδημιολογικές εξελίξεις σε σχέση με την Ιταλία και τις υπόλοιπες χώρες.
Εδώ όλη η δήλωσή μου↩️https://t.co/KHGGIjJg1k
— Vassilis Kikilias (@Vkikilias) February 24, 2020
Greek Students in Italy
The Greek state has organized a massive operation of registering and identifying all students of Greek nationality who are currently in Italy as visiting students through the EU’s Erasmus program.
“There is a systematic inventory now, in consultation with all rectors. There is no reason for concern,” Education Minister Nikki Kerameus stated on this matter on Monday.
The same procedures apply to younger Greek students who are participating in other European Union educational programs in Italy.
Earlier, Kerameus had announced that all future educational trips sponsored by Greek schools and universities to Italy will be banned until further notice.
It is noted that Italy is the most popular non-Greek travel destination for schools.
Αναστέλλονται όλες οι εκπαιδευτικές εκδρομές προς Ιταλία, μέχρι νεωτέρας, μετά τα επιβεβαιωμένα κρούσματα κορονοϊού σε περιοχές της γειτονικής χώρας. Δρούμε προληπτικά, προστατεύουμε τους μαθητές, τους φοιτητές, τους σπουδαστές και τους εκπαιδευτικούς μας. pic.twitter.com/nsPT5pXOuf
— Nίκη Κεραμέως (@nkerameus) February 24, 2020