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Greece on Alert after Increase of Coronavirus in Thrace Region

Greece’s head epidemiologist, Sotiris Tsiodras, (left) and Deputy Minister for Citizen Protection Nikos Hardalias. File photo

Greek health authorities are on high alert once again after 11 new cases of Covid-19 appeared in the Echinos community in the Xanthi Prefecture, an area in which the General Secretariat for Citizen Protection imposed a curfew and restrictions on travel last week.
In the last 48 hours alone, four people died with the coronavirus in Echinos, while 11 new cases were detected on Tuesday.
At the same time, in the neighboring prefecture of Rodopi, and the Iasmos municipality in particular, a similar increase in the number of cases has forced authorities to impose restrictions on travel as well as a nighttime curfew.
It was decided in an extraordinary meeting of Greece’s General Secretariat for Civil Protection to put the entire municipality of Iasmos in quarantine, with a particular view to problems in the town of Agiasmos.
As in Echinos, public and private gatherings are prohibited for seven days, while there is a strict curfew from 9 pm to 7 am. The use of masks is mandatory on the part of residents and they are completely prohibited from traveling outside the community.
Additionally, in the municipalities of Miki in Xanthi, and Iasmos in Rodopi, the measures also include limiting visits to public services by appointment only, the mandatory use of masks in all private businesses and shops and a ban on farmers markets and open air markets for 14 days.
Greece’s health authorities are concerned about the resurgence of the pandemic in Thrace, hoping that there will be no outbreaks of cases in other areas of the country where crowds can now form in cities and tourist areas.
This is especially true now that Greece has opened its doors to international visitors.
The case of Echinos
The Echinos area had been under a complete quarantine for 14 days in April and the spread of Covid-19 was indeed contained there at that time. However, several cases were detected last week, which was disproportionate to the sharply decreased spread of the coronavirus in other parts of Greece.
Last Thursday, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection Nikos Chardalias, and the leader of the team for coronavirus management, Dr. Sotiris Tsiodras, personally visited these same municipalities in Thrace and explained to local residents the importance of adhering to the measures.
As of Tuesday, nine people had been admitted to the intensive care unit at the Alexandroupolis Hospital while five additional individuals were hospitalized. Five other residents are currently being treated at the Xanthi Hospital.
Health authorities attribute the surge of Covid-19 cases in the area to the neglect of safety measures and overcrowding in the small, enclosed communities of the majority Muslim population. Extended families often gather together and perform their religious rituals at home, and as a result the virus spreads quickly among them, and in the community in general.

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