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Government Spokesman Resigns Less Than 2 Months into Job

Spokesman Christos Tarantilis resigns
Government spokesman Christos Tarantilis resigns. Credit: Greek government

Greek Government spokesman and Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister Christos Tarantilis resigned his post on Sunday in a letter to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

He said that he resigns for family reasons. He was appointed government spokesman on January 4.

In his letter, he thanked the prime minister and reassured that he will continue to be in the first line of the efforts for major reforms that will change the country as member of New Democracy’s parliamentary group.

According to Prime Minister’s office, Alternate government spokesperson Aristotelia Peloni will act as government spokesperson.

Member of Parliament since 2019

Tarantilis was elected as a member of the Greek parliament with the governing New Democracy Party on July 7, 2019.

He is the Secretary of the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Cultural and Educational Affairs, and a member of the Special Permanent Committee on Research and Technology.

He served as the Secretary of Strategic Planning and Communication of the New Democracy Party from January 17, 2017 until the winning elections on July 7, 2019.

He is also a Full-Professor of Management Science and Decision Making at the Department of Management Science & Technology of Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB).

He has served as the Head of the Department, the Director of the “Operations Research and Decision Systems” group and member of the steering committee for four postgraduate programs at AUEB.

His publications have received more than 4,500 citations according to the Google Scholar.

The Day When Greeks Defied the Nazis to Attend Great Poet Palamas’ Funeral

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Palamas
Poet Kostis Palamas. Credit: Public domain

On a day like this on February 28 1943, Athens was trembling by the sentiment of grief; one of the nation’s greatest poets, Kostis Palamas, had died the day before.

One of the top Greek poets of modern literature and one of the most inspiring figures of Hellenism, Palamas’ works became the artistic beacons of Greece.

His funeral was meant to become the first massive anti-Nazi and anti-occupation demonstration in Europe.

A national poet in the making

Born in Patras on January 13, 1859, Palamas lived long enough to see Greece occupied by the Germans, as he died on February 27, 1943.

Palamas’ enormous poetic work is imbued with history, Hellenism, and the formation of the “Great Idea” for his homeland; the idea that wanted Greece to reach its former glory, that of Byzantium and of the ancient world.

However, Palamas’ work wasn’t just that. It also dealt with the everyday, ordinary man and his feelings. This is why he was named Greece’s National Poet. Because he knew what the Greek wanted, what the Greek was.

The poet’s lyricism and word-making skills have been remarkable. But other than an exemplary poet, Palamas was also a literary critic, a literary writer, and a literary philosopher.

The early life

Palamas lost both his parents at an early age.

In 1864, his mother Penelope died during a premature birth, while less than a year later, his father Michael passed away as well.

The six-year-old Kostis was taken in the custody of his uncle, Dimitrios Palamas, and moved to his house in Mesolonghi, Greece’s renowned ”Holy City.”

The young boy stayed there from 1867 until o 1875. He started writing poems and literature as early as high school.

As soon as he finished high school, in 1876, he moved to Athens, the newly-established capital of the modern Greek state. There, he enrolled in the Law School of the Athens University.

His studies, however, did not last long, as the heart of young Palamas belonged to poetry and literature. He started working as a journalist to make a living using different aliases and he kept writing feverishly.

Palamas soon stood out from his colleagues. He became the founder of the “New Athenian School” in poetry and in 1886 and he published his first poetry collection, the “Songs of My Fatherland”.

Palamas’ Adult Life

In 1887, Palamas married Maria Valvi, with whom he had three children: Nausica, Leandros, and Alkis.

Tragically, his youngest son, Alkis, died at the age of five and the poet was lost in grief.

In memory of little Alkis, he wrote the poem “Tomb,” a magnificent elegy.

In 1879 he was appointed secretary of the University of Athens and, until his resignation in 1928 as Secretary-General, he won many honorary distinctions, the most important being that of the academic in 1926.

In 1924, the French Government honored Palamas with the “Legion of Honor” title, to honor his contribution to Europe’s literature.

In 1929 he was appointed President of the Academy of Sciences, in yet another milestone of his unbelievable achievements.

Early in 1933, the great Greek poet was also honored with the “Goethe” medal by the German ambassador to Athens.

More medals and honors came in the next years from various European countries.

In 1936, Palamas celebrated his fifty-year contribution to Greek poetry and literature. He received the title of Dean of the Royal Order for his contribution in the “Letters and Art” of the Ministry of Education of the country. In 1937 his statue was raised in Messolonghi, a rare honor for someone still alive.

The Historic Funeral

Palamas
The coffin of Kostis Palamas. Credit: Public domain

Unfortunately, on February 9, 1943, his life partner Maria passed away. A few days later, on February 27, 1943 Palamas died too.

For his funeral, an astonishing number of about 100,000 Greeks paid their respects to the “National Poet” in front of the amazed eyes of the German conquerors.

The Nazi occupiers were very strict with their commands for ”public order” in their conquered lands, however, this was not enough for the thousands of mourning Greeks to stop them from paying their respects to a real legend.

Renowned poet Aggelos Sikelianos wrote and recited the touching “Palamas” for the funeral service.

Early in the morning, thousands of people began to gather at Athens‘ first cemetery.

Even the occupying forces of Germany and Italy sent their representatives to show that they respect the great Greek poet.

However, the gathered crowd could not hide its anti-Nazi sentiment. The whole spirit of the day was brilliantly expressed in the words of Sikelianos: ”The whole of Greece rests in this coffin,” he said.

After the coffin of Palamas was placed in the grave, a brave member of the crowd began singing the national anthem. The entire city was then flooded by the voices of the Athenians who sang the anthem of the country.

”Long live the liberty of spirit!” one man shouted. ”Long live Liberty!” the crowd responded, fearless and determined to show to the Nazis that they were never welcome in Greece.

Kostis Palamas was now a legend.

Greek Orthodox School of Theology Gets $2.4 Million Gift from Athens

Greek Orthodox School
Greek Orthodox School gets a gift from the Greek government. Credit: Hellenic College

The Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (HCHC) has recently received a gift of two million euros ($2,388,000) from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America that was given to them by the government of Greece.

President of HCHC George M. Cantonis said that the gift is a “huge step forward toward securing our financial stability and viability.”

“We are profoundly grateful to the government of Greece and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“We are also most thankful to His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America for his tireless efforts on behalf of the College in this and so many other matters,” Cantonis added.

A native of Chicago, and a longtime resident of Florida, Cantonis has served the Church in many capacities over the years, including various leadership positions at the local parish level as well as on the national level through the Archdiocesan Council and Leadership 100.

Use of the gift by the College is restricted as follows: $2,300,000 of the total amount given is designated to reducing the institution’s endowment debt, while $88,000 is designated to helping fund HC/HC’s Greek cultural programming at the Maliotis Cultural Center on campus.

Greek Orthodox School
Staff of the Greek Orthodox School say “thank you” to all supporters. Credit: Facebook/Hellenic College Holy Cross

HCHC educates for service to Church and society

HCHC is a graduate school of theology that educates and forms Orthodox Christian men and women for service to the Church and society.

Whether preparing for the holy priesthood or for lay vocations in which they can put their faith into action, Holy Cross students make up a vibrant community engaged in pursuing the eternal truths of Christ’s message of salvation for all the world, the HCHC says.

It adds that the students study Scripture, the Fathers, Church history, ethics, and every other aspect of the ancient faith.

Greek support for HCHC

The Greek government’s commitment to support HC/HC was further evidenced by the October 23 visit to the campus by Ambassador Alexandra Papadopoulou, Greece’s senior representative in the United States, accompanied by Greece’s Consul General in Boston, Stratos Efthymiou.

Welcoming her were His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, His Grace Bishop Joachim of Amyssos, and President Cantonis, along with members of the faculty, staff, and student body.

At a gathering in Holy Cross Chapel, just below which the flags of the United States and Greece fly, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros thanked the Ambassador for honoring the school with her visit.

“It is so important to feel and to see that the Greek government is with us…This is the home of all Greeks and all Orthodox in the United States.”

In response, Ambassador Papadopoulou said that the “role of this institution is unique.”

She added that the Prime Minister is committed to help in restoring it to the level that it deserves.

 

Top DJ Charlotte de Witte Performs at Ancient Messene

Charlotte de Witte Messene
Charlotte de Witte performing at Ancient Messene. Credit: Screenshot Youtube/Onassis Foundation

Belgian DJ Charlotte de Witte played the set of her life on Thursday after she performed her famed techno beats at the majestic archaeological site of Ancient Messene in Greece.

With the setting sun, Peloponnesian countryside, and ancient stadium as a backdrop, de Witte blasted the dark, minimal house music for which the prominent female DJ is known, to an entirely virtual audience.

Sponsored by the Onassis Foundation, the techno star put on a live performance in the ancient site for thousands of viewers online.

The performance gave de Witte’s fans a taste of life before Covid-19, when they could both dance in nightclubs and visit archaeological sites, unrestrained by anti-virus measures and without fear of contracting Covid-19.

Charlotte de Witte Messene
Charlotte de Witte performing at Ancient Messene. Credit: Screenshot Youtube/Onassis Foundation

The 28-year-old DJ began performing under the moniker Raving George, in order to avoid negative associations based on her gender, in 2010, and skyrocketed to fame in the techno world in 2015, when she began performing under her real name.

The founder of her own label, KNTXT, de Witte is wildly popular, with over 1.7 million Instagram followers.

Ancient Messene

Featuring stunning shots of ancient Messene from all angles, the live performance, streamed across social media, was as much a showcase of the Belgian musician’s impressive talent as it was an incredible portrayal of one of Greece’s most well preserved ancient sites.

The current site of ancient Messene, located in the southwestern Peloponnese, covers much of what was an ancient city founded by Theban general Epaminondas in 369 BC.

Yet the ancient city was built atop the remains of an even older Bronze Age settlement, making the site replete with archaeological finds.

Despite the fact that Messene was continuously inhabited from antiquity to the modern era, it remained remarkably well maintained, and its ancient theater, stadium, and agora make visitors marvel to this day.

For more than 600 years, the ancient theater of Messene was an important center for not only drama but also events in the political sphere.

Great men of the past once strode its stage, including Philip V, the king of Macedonia, and the general of the Achaean League, Philopoemen from Megalopolis.

The Oldest Photograph Ever to Be Taken of the Acropolis

The Acropolis of Athens
The Acropolis of Athens. Credit: Larry CC BY 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons

The Acropolis of Athens is probably one of the most photographed sites on the entire planet. However, one single picture has a particular value for the world: It is the oldest photograph of the Acropolis ever to be taken.

The Oldest Photograph of the Acropolis

The oldest photograph of the Acropolis
The oldest photograph of the Acropolis, Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey.

179 years ago, in the distant year of 1842, French photographer and draughtsman Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey took the first-ever photograph of the ”Holy Rock”.

To be more precise, this photograph is a daguerreotype, and it is actually one of the earliest surviving photographs of Greece.

Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey took the picture from the Hill of the Nymphs, also known today as the Hill of the National Observatory.

It depicts part of the fortification of the Rock, the Parthenon, and some of the other ancient buildings of the Acropolis.

What is a daguerreotype?

The daguerreotype was the first publicly available photographic process widely used during the 1840s and 1850s.

It was invented by Frenchman Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre and introduced worldwide in 1839.

To create the photograph, a daguerreotypist would have to polish a silver-plated copper sheet to a mirror. He would then have to treat it with fumes that made its surface sensitive to light and expose it to a camera.

The artist would then have to make the resulting image visible by fuming it with mercury vapor. The complicated procedure would then finish by removing its liquid chemical treatment, rinse and dry it, and then seal the result behind a glass.

This was approximately what Girault de Prangey did in Athens in 1842.

The Newly-Established Greek State

1842 was only twelve years after the first modern Greek state’s official establishment and only nine years after the last Ottoman soldier left Athens forever.

Athens had become the capital of the Kingdom of Greece in 1834, only eight years before the first picture of the Acropolis had been taken.

The city was a small town, almost ruined due to the long Greco-Turkish war that ultimately led to Greece’s liberation.

It is worth mentioning that this was the period when Georg Maurer, the Regent of the new Greek state, had said that “Athens, which before the Liberation War had about 3,000 houses, now doesn’t even have 300. The rest have been turned into an amorphous pile of stones.”

The 1840s and 1850s were the decades when the city of Athens began to take its modern shape, with its emblematic buildings built at that time, including today’s Parliament House.

Spectacular Modern Greek House Nominated for EU Award

Modern Architecture Greece
The Lap Pool House on Tinos island. Credit: Aristides Dallas Architects

The “Lap Pool House,” a modern house built on a slope of the Cycladic island of Tinos, is nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award, a prestigious European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture.

The Architectural Project of the Lap Pool House

According to Aristides Dallas Architects, the team who created this masterpiece was inspired by the rocks’ cavities and ledges. The house emerges from the natural landscape as a human-made cave, re-creating spatial points of exposure and introversion.

The entrance of the house is located at the back of the building. People can enter through an earth crack, while different roof cuts allow light and air to enter the building.

The architects say that the water in the pool that is one of the main features of the house ”contrasts with the rocky texture of the bare concrete as a translation of the interactions between natural elements.”

Concrete is also the theme that encompasses the house in its entirety.

Modern Architecture Greece
The Lap Pool House features an impressive swimming pool. Credit: Aristides Dallas Architects

”A single slab of concrete, planted, so it appears as an extension of the landscape, covers the three building volumes in the Lap pool house and shapes the individual architectural qualities of open and closed space in the residence,” the team says.

”The two volumes that project from the slab perpendicular to each other make up the private spaces, a bedroom, and a guest house. In the same volume, there is a protected semi-outdoor space that frames the view while offering shelter, at the request of the owner.”

What is unique about this house is that the building’s colors emerge from the color of the rocks surrounding it.

The inspiring creators wanted to achieve camouflage in the landscape. ”Embracing this idea of merging with the landforms around it, the building urges the habitant to live with absolute connection with the scenery of Tinos and with nature altogether,” the architects note in their description of the house.

Modern Architecture Greece
The Lap Pool House blends with its surroundings. Credit: Aristides Dallas Architects

The EU Mies Award for Architecture

The EU Award for Contemporary Architecture is a biennial prize that highlights outstanding architectural works built across the European Union.

According to the organizers, besides the main prize, which is a €60,000-award, the Award also includes the Emerging Architect Prize of €20,000.

Since 2001, the prize has been co-organized by the European Commission and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe every other year. It is also referred to in short as the EU Mies Award.

 

Was Greek Philosopher Diogenes the Cynic the First Anarchist?

Diogenes the Cynic
“Diogenes Sitting in His Tub,” by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1860). Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

The ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes the Cynic (also known as Diogenes of Sinope) could have been the first anarchist, or the first absurdist, or the first satirist, or the first naturalist — depending on the reader’s point of view.

By today’s standards, Diogenes was a homeless man by choice whose life goal was the search for wisdom.

His unique approach to life had absolutely nothing to do with society’s norms and rules — either now or back in ancient times.

He found the shelter he needed inside an enormous ceramic pot, rejecting all comforts and luxuries — yet his observations about life, politics and society were amazingly spot-on, although they were often expressed in offensive language.

Philosophy of Diogenes the Cynic

Born in Sinope, the Ionian city along the Black Sea in 412 or 404 BC, he is considered one of the founders of Cynic philosophy, along with Antisthenes and Crates.

He believed that social values, material goods and luxuries kept man away from true happiness — which can only be found by living in the simplicity of nature.

His father was a minter of coins in Sinope and young Diogenes had worked alongside him in that most materialistic of all ventures.

One story says that the young man soon went to the Oracle at Delphi, however, and was told that he should “deface the currency.”

And this is exactly what he did upon returning to his hometown. The difference was that he believed he should deface the people depicted on the coins — i.e., the rulers.

This quite understandably led to his exile from Sinope, and Diogenes then went to live in Athens.

Once there, he began living the simple life, which later became his all-encompassing philosophy.

He would sleep inside his giant pot at night and during the day he begged for a living while walking the streets — all of which behavior challenged the social norms and values of the time.

At night, he would walk the streets while holding a lantern, telling people that he was looking for one honest man. He would later claim that he never found one.

Diogenes the Cynic
“Diogenes in Search of an Honest Man.” Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione. Credit:  National Gallery of Art, CC0/Wikimedia Commons

The word “cynic” (in Greek kynikos (κυνικός) “dog-like”), derives from the word κύων or kynos, meaning dog, and was used to describe the dog-like behavior of Diogenes, who lived in the streets, sometimes eating raw meat, and performing his natural bodily functions in public, like a dog, without shame.

Diogenes routinely demonstrated his complete disregard for every person, and any norm of the society that they were a part of.

Many called him a lunatic, yet his wit and caustic humor became widely known, and he earned the respect of philosophers.

Diogenes found interest in the ascetic teachings of Antisthenes, who was a student of Socrates. It is said that when he asked Antisthenes to mentor him, the philosopher ignored him; after Diogenes persisted, Antisthenes beat him with his staff.

After that treatment, Diogenes responded: “Strike, for you will find no wood hard enough to keep me away from you, so long as I think you’ve something to say.”

Eventually, Diogenes became Antisthenes’ pupil, despite the initial violent response of the philosopher, and soon he even surpassed his master in his austere way of life and the creation of Cynicism as a school of thought.

Life of virtue

By today’s standards — if we leave his social behavior aside — Diogenes could be called a naturalist.

His philosophy of Cynicism was to live a life of virtue, much like an animal which has no unfortunate human traits.

A life that is as simple as possible, with no need for earthly pleasures — just like that of a dog.

The way Diogenes believed one could achieve ευδαιμονία, or ευτυχία (happiness) was through living life in accordance with nature, enjoying the simple things, being happy with very little — like the sun’s rays on one’s face, a sip of cool water in the summer heat, or a bite of delicious fruit from a tree.

That was the epitome of the good life for Diogenes.

Diogenes the Cynic
“Diogenes,” (1873) by Jules Bastien-Lepage. Credit: Wikipedia/Public Domain

Also, by today’s standards, again, Diogenes could be called an anarchist.

The Cynic philosopher rejected authority, was very caustic against society in general and believed that most people are hypocrites in regard to social norms.

And to this cynical philosopher, the biggest hypocrites of all were politicians and rulers.

Diogenes had not only scorn for rulers and aristocrats, but also for all family and socio-political organizations. He also disliked the “masses,” showing equal disrespect for society in general.

Disrespect for rulers

There is an anecdote about Diogenes’ disrespect for rulers which is supposed to have taken place in Corinth, where the philosopher lived at the time.

Having heard about the antics and the philosophical gems of Diogenes, Alexander the Great wanted to meet him and even traveled to Corinth just for that purpose.

Based on the accounts of Plutarch, the two men exchanged only a few words. Alexander came upon Diogenes as the philosopher was basking in the morning sunlight.

Thrilled to meet the famous thinker, Alexander asked if there was any favor he might do for him.

To that, Diogenes replied, “Move a little to the right, you are blocking my sun.”

Alexander then declared, “If I were not Alexander, then I should wish to be Diogenes.” Diogenes famously replied to the King of Macedonia “If I were not Diogenes, I would still wish to be Diogenes.”

Diogenes
Statue of Diogenes with Alexander the Great in Corinth. Credit: Achilles Vasileiou, CC BY-SA 4.0/ Wikimedia Commons

As an anarchist in today’s terms, Diogenes unfortunately did not even believe in writing down his ideas.

No written work of his exists today, since he believed that people understood his teachings better through actions and conversation, rather than through reading.

Citizen of the world

“I am a citizen of the world (cosmopolites)”, he liked to declare, which literally means a “citizen of the world” in Greek.

Like today’s anarchists, who do not believe in nations and borders, Diogenes liked to go wherever he pleased and set up his home — or rather “set up his pot.”

By refusing the normal comforts of life, which others sought their whole lives to acquire, Diogenes rejected the idea of property.

He needed no house, nor even clothing, other than the rags he used to wear, depending on the season.

There are several stories surrounding Diogenes’ death at the age of 89 in 323 BC. Many of them seem fabricated, based on his way of life, such as the one in which he died of an infection after being bitten by a dog.

Nevertheless, true to his philosophy, he had always viewed the afterlife with the same scorn with which he viewed earthly life in an organized society.

Throughout human history, Diogenes has been described as many things.

He was certainly a cynical philosopher. And one could also say that he was one of the first anarchists — not only by the standards of ancient Greece, but also by the norms of today’s society as well.

Cyprus’ Entry in Eurovision Song Contest Sparks Controversy

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Cyprus
Elena Tsagkrinou will represent Cyprus. Credit: Elena Tsagkrinou / Facebook

Cyprus’s 2021 Eurovision song slated to be sung on the program this May sparked controversy among ultra-conservative Christian groups on the island.

Cyprus will be represented by singer Elena Tsagkrinou, who will sing a song titled ”El Diablo,” which is Spanish for ”The Devil.”

Tsagkrinou, a 26-year old singer from Greece, now features among the top entries for 2021, as her song has been received exceptionally well by European audiences and Eurovision fans.

The Controversy in Cyprus

However, an ultra-conservative group of Theologists in Cyprus has created an online petition to withdraw the song.

The petition titled ‘“Cancellation of El Diablo song participation in Eurovision” asks Cyprus’ Broadcasting Corporation RIK (CyBC) to cancel the country’s entry as ”The participation of Cyprus in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song EL DIABLO is scandalous for us Christians.”

Many social media users have perceived this Christian group’s reaction as ”ludicrous” and ”funny,” however, 4,000 people have signed the petition.

There are media reports from Cyprus even suggesting that people have been sending threatening messages and calls to CyBC to stop the song from representing their country.

The Response of Cyprus’ CyBC

CyBC had to issue an official statement recently to respond to those who demand the cancellation of the country’s entry.

”The song which will represent Cyprus to the 65th Eurovision Song Contest tells the tale of this girl that has found herself entangled in a relationship with someone as bad as ‘El Diablo,’” CyBC notes.

”It regards the eternal struggle between good and evil. Through this problematic relationship with signs of Stockholm syndrome and despite the paranoia she is experiencing, she is seeking help towards freedom,” the announcement of the Cypriot Broadcaster reads.

”In the end, as they say, the truth always shines. Especially these days, we hope the song and its proper interpretation will inspire not only women but also everyone who faces similar situations,” CyBC concluded.

The Eurovision Song Contest

The Eurovision Song Contest is a European song competition organized annually by the European Broadcasting Union, and it features participants representing European countries, Australia, and Israel.

It is one of the world’s most-watched TV programs, with almost 200 million Europeans watching the semi-finals and the grand final every May.

The competition was canceled due to the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. However, it is scheduled between May 18 and May 22 this year in the Netherlands.

Young Greek-Dutch singer Stefania will represent Greece.

Coronavirus: Greece Surpasses 850,000 Vaccinations, 1630 New Cases Saturday

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Coronavirus
People are enjoying the sunny weather in Thessaloniki as vaccination is underway. Credit: Greek Reporter

Greece has now surpassed 850,000 Coronavirus vaccinations, while another 50 vaccination centers will be added to the current 750, Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said on Saturday.

This statement took place after the minister’s visit to the mega-center of vaccinations at Helexpo in the northern suburb of Marousi in Athens.

New cases and deaths remain alarmingly high.

In the meantime, Greece recorded a total of 1,630 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Saturday.

The current figure represents 160 fewer than the 1,790 cases that were diagnosed in Greece on Friday, one day before.

Unfortunately, 29 more individuals lost their lives over the last 24-hour period in the country due to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The exact same figure, 29, was the number of deaths that Greek authorities reported a day before, on Friday.

Additionally, 379 people are currently intubated across Greece’s hospitals in their Intensive Care Units.

Lockdown extended for Athens and several other areas.

While the regions of Attica and Thessaloniki remain on epidemiological high-alert, several other regions and municipalities joined them in terms of coronavirus measures on Saturday.

These measures will be in effect through March 8, as per the government’s Friday announcement.

A high-alert status has been proclaimed in the following regional units: Lefkada (except the island of Meganisi), Thesprotia, Syros, Samos, Heraklion on Crete, and Corinth, as well as the municipalities of Arta, Didimoticho, Lokris, and Amfilochia.

An alarming rise in the viral load is observed at the municipalities of Lamia and Volos as well.

On the contrary, the municipalities of Tempi and Karpathos came out of the high-alert level on Saturday.

Dr. Vana Papaevangelou, a renowned epidemiologist and member of the special coronavirus committee, had warned on Friday that Attica’s ICUs have reached 88% capacity.

The lack of space in the region’s hospitals is particularly worrying to officials, who fear that any more pressure on the healthcare system could lead to overflowing hospitals.

One Year Since First Coronavirus Case Was Reported in Greece

The first case of coronavirus in Greece was confirmed and officially announced one year ago, on February 26, 2020.

The news was shared with the nation in an emergency briefing by the Ministry of Health by Professor of Infectious Diseases Sotiris Tsiodras.

According to Dr. Tsiodras, the first Greek victim of the new virus was a 38-year-old woman who had returned from an affected area in ​​northern Italy.

Patient zero was Dimitra Voulgaridou, a fashion designer who had traveled to Milan for business, at a time when the number of cases in northern Italy had risen sharply.

UK 2021 Holiday Bookings for Greece Rise By Astonishing 96%

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Greece
The island of Santorini in Greece. Credit: Greek Reporter

According to travel agency Skyscanner, British nationals’ holiday bookings to Greece for 2021 have risen recently by an astonishing 96 percent.

The sharp increase in bookings came earlier this week when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that London plans to lift all Coronavirus restrictions completely by June 21.

Greece 2nd-Most-Favorite Destination for Britons

Greece has been second only to Spain in terms of numbers of British nationals who wish to escape the UK’s traditionally miserable weather over the summer and visit a south European nation.

The destinations that the British holidaymakers prefer this year are Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus, and Turkey.

British Welcome to Greece

British nationals will be allowed into Greece during the summer period regardless of whether they have been vaccinated, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis told British ITV News on Thursday.

“We feel that vaccination means someone with the required certificates, which the government will issue will mean you don’t need to have a negative test before the flight. But it doesn’t mean that only vaccinated people can travel. We still have the option of a negative test for those who haven’t had a vaccine,” ITV News quoted Theocharis.

The Tourism minister effectively said that even unvaccinated people would not have to self-isolate after they arrive in Greece.

The Greek minister also added that vaccination programs and rapid testing for the coronavirus would make a great difference this year in reopening the country during its high tourist season.

EU Leaders Discuss Coronavirus Vaccine Certificates

EU leaders discussed the possibility of the issuance of coronavirus vaccine certificates on Thursday.

In a press conference after the decision, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated, “Everyone agreed that we need a digital vaccination certificate.”

She added that the vaccine passports could be available by the summer but that the bloc needs three months to create the needed technical infrastructure to issue such documentation.

Southern European countries that are heavily tourism-dependent, including Greece, are banking on some version of a certificate or “vaccine passport” to allow people to move freely this summer without fears of quarantines or other border restrictions.

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis was one of the most vocal proponents of the concept, saying that Europe needed such a system for tourism to begin approaching normal levels in the summer of 2021 after a devastating 2020.