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Greece Clamps Down on Venues to Control Rising COVID-19 Infections

Greece infections spread
Nurses administering a COVID-19 rapid-test station in Greece. Credit: Greek Reporter

Greece announced measures on Tuesday to clamp down on outdoor venues to control infections by younger people as the novel coronavirus cases are on the rise.

Food places, bars, clubs and entertainment venues will only allow seated customers as of Thursday, the government said, in an effort to control spiking rates of coronavirus infections driven by crowding by younger people.

Deputy Minister for Civil Protection & Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias said in a short emergency briefing that the average age of new coronavirus infections in the last 10 days is down to 27.

Citing National Public Health Organization (EODY) statistics, he said that the rate of clusters of infection had risen as well, while 32 percent of people with recorded infections mentioned an outdoor assembly as possible source of exposure to the coronavirus.

In addition, hundreds of infections recorded in the last few days appear to be traced to entertainment venues.

He warned that the incidence of the Delta variant was increasing, especially among young people, which be blamed on bars and clubs.

“The Delta mutation has begun to prevail and the unvaccinated are in danger. Since last Monday we have recorded a jump in new cases, which have almost tripled. The new cases have been detected mainly in people of a young age and mainly in entertainment activities in clubs and bars, which facilitate transmission.”

Infections among younger people on the rise in Greece

As an example, he said that in sample testing on Tuesday alone at the Athenian southern suburbs of Alimos and Glyfada, 66 percent of infected people were aged 15-24 years old, and the positivity rate was 6.1 percent and 8.4 percent, respectively.

The minister also announced penalties for venues for first-, second- and third-time offenders (the last one having their operation license revoked), and warned of the Delta variation of Covid-19, which has already arrived in Greece.

“So far, the rise in infections is not accompanied by a significant rise in hospitalization rates,” Hardalias said, and the number of people placed on ventilators as well as the deaths continue to drop.

However, he said people should get vaccinated, “to protect your parents and your aged relatives who have not been inoculated,” and do regular testing before and after every social activity, including with freely available self-tests.

Delta variant

The delta variant of the coronavirus is likely responsible for the huge increase in daily cases in Greece on Tuesday.

The Organization for Public Health announced that there was an astronomical rise in cases on Tuesday, with 1,797 new cases of the coronavirus diagnosed in the last 24 hours.

According to data, last week, cases of the coronavirus rose by 75% compared to the week before.

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned that the Delta variant was already present in Greece, and could cause a significant surge in cases amongst those who have not yet received the vaccine.

“The Delta variant has already been identified in our country… we have already seen its presence, for example in Crete.”

“All those who are still unvaccinated, especially the most at-risk citizens, are at a greater risk to be infected and become very ill,” Mitsotakis stated Monday.

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