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Derek Chauvin Found Guilty in the Murder of George Floyd

Derek Chauvin Trial
Protesters march for justice outside the court where Derek Chauvin’s trial was taking place in Minneapolis. Credit: Chad Davis / CC BY-SA 2.0

Former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on April 20 on all three counts leveled against him by the state of Minnesota regarding the murder of George Floyd.

Chauvin’s high profile trial invited public attention and scrutiny for the last few months. The charges against him included third-degree murder, second-degree unintentional murder, and second-degree manslaughter. 12 jurors deliberated for 10 hours before delivering the final verdict: guilty.

Though some members of the public are awaiting Chauvin’s sentencing to truly believe that justice has been served, most people following the trial breathed a sigh of relief.

Derek Chauvin and the Black Lives Matter Movement

Last year, Chauvin’s killing of George Floyd, caught on camera, spurred a national movement of protests. The Black Lives Matter movement dominated the headlines, with many demanding justice for the cold, brutal, senseless murder of Floyd. Protests swept the nation for months, often resulting in further clashes with police. Floyd’s repeated last words – “I Can’t Breathe” – became the chant of the protesters.

Other victims of police brutality, including Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, also became symbols of what many saw as a broken and racist justice system.

Police killed Taylor in her sleep during an invasion of her home in the night. Officers shot an unarmed Arbery while he was jogging.

Systemic Problems in US Policing

Systemic racism in policing has long been a major problem in the United States. Black people, many times unarmed, are disproportionately likely to be the victims of police brutality.

US police’s unfortunate tendency to escalate situations and resort to violence unnecessarily has often been brought to light. Last year, Greek-American George Zapantis suffered a cardiac arrest after repeatedly being tasted by police at his own home.

In the case of Derek Chauvin, he suffocated Floyd to death by kneeling his neck for a period of around nine minutes. His fellow officers did not interfere. Though passerbys asked Chauvin to stop, he disregarded their pleas.

The Trial of George Floyd

Despite the clear-cut evidence, many were pessimistic about the verdict in Derek Chauvin’s trial. Unfortunately, many officers who have killed citizens, even unarmed citizens and had their actions recorded, have faced little to no consequences for their actions.

Often, officers don’t even go to trial. Either prosecutors don’t charge them or Grand Juries clear them before a former trial.

For all these reasons, Chauvin’s verdict, though seemingly logical, still came as a welcome surprise to many. However, activists and leaders warn that a lot of works remains to fix the broken justice system in the US.

President Biden remarked, “no one should be above the law, and today’s verdict sends that message. But it’s not enough. We can’t stop here…in order to deliver real change and reform, we can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever happen or occur again.”

Vice President Kamala Harris, who is mixed race Black and of Indian heritage herself, had the following to say. “Today we feel a sigh of relief. Still, it cannot take away the pain. A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice. This verdict brings us a step closer, and the fact is, we still have work to do. We still must reform the system.”

The courts have not set a sentencing date for Derek Chauvin yet. His second-degree murder charge carries a maximum of 40 years.

Five of the Best Greek Islands for Windsurfing

Greek Islands windsurfing
Windsurfing in Vasiliki. Credit: Robert Sharp via Creative Commons (CC by 2.0)

Greece has over 200 islands for locals and travelers alike to explore. However, when it comes to water sports, and especially windsurfing, some Greek islands easily top the rest.

The sport of windsurfing has become increasingly popular in Greece and around the world in recent decades. Greece’s combination of strong winds and flat water in sheltered bays make it a great spot for windsurfers from all around the world.

For those looking to learn or for more advanced competitors, here are some great Greek islands for windsurfing.

Lefkada – Great for Beginners and Advanced Windsurfers Alike

The Ionian island of Lefkada is a favorite destination for beach lovers, thanks to its turquoise-colored waters. However, its small southern port town of Vasiliki is especially great for windsurfing.

The beaches of Vasiliki sit along a protected bay, meaning the strong winds that cross the island don’t cause any waves. Many Europeans and instructors from all over the world set up windsurfing shops and schools there in the summer.

In the mornings, when the winds generally tend to be calm, beginners can go pick up the basics of windsurfing. When the wind changes in the early afternoon, advanced windsurfers head out all the way to the end of the bay at breakneck speeds.

This shift in winds happens almost daily during the summer. Its reliability is part of what has attracted so many windsurfers to the area.

Since the island has also become a favorite spot for kitesurfers in recent years, Lefkada should definitely be on the list for those who love water sports. In general, its location in the Ionian also means it isn’t reliant on the Aegean “meltemi” wind, and generally has quieter conditions.

However, for more advanced windsurfers, the strong meltemi winds of the Aegean may be exactly what they crave.

Naxos – Windsurfing in the Meltemi

Greek surfers usually favor the Aegean islands for summer practice. Among them, Naxos is definitely one of the top picks for some of the top windsurfers in the world.

The western side of the island has great conditions for advanced surfers. Many descend on a beach called “Mikri Vigla.” This part of the coast sits right where the wind speeds up, thanks to the narrow strait here between Paros and Naxos. This causes the ideal, mostly steady, windy conditions that windsurfers love.

Plaka and Agios Prokopios are also good choices for advanced windsurfers. Beginners may want to try learning at Agios Georgios. The beach here has a small lagoon-like area which is sheltered from the strong meltemi winds.

Paros – Visit One of the Oldest Surf Clubs in Greece

Best Greek islands windsurfing
Windsurfing in Paros/Credit: verchmarco via Creative Commons

Just like Naxos, Paros gets the full blast of the meltemi wind in the summer. This attracts windsurfers from all over the world.

Perhaps this is why Paros is home to Paros Surf Club, one of the longest-operating clubs in Greece. Paros Surf Club was founded in 1989, and is still operating today.

Located on New Golden Beach, this surf club is a great training spot for those seeking to learn the basic skills or advanced the skills they already have. Additionally, both New Golden Beach and Golden Beach are some of the best windsurfing spots on the island.

Rhodes – A Greek Island With Windsurfing and A Stunning Old Town

One of the larger islands in the Aegean Sea, Rhodes is mostly known for its beautiful old town, amazing architecture, and great beaches. However, many travelers don’t know that it also has ideal conditions for windsurfing.

Advanced windsurfers who want to show off some tricks favor Theologos Beach and Prasonisi. The conditions here allow surfers to perform jumps off the water and other cool stunts.

Even beginners can enjoy themselves on these beaches by just watching the windsurfing pros cruise over the sea. Otherwise, amateurs can head to Windsurfers’ World in Ixia, another well-established and renowned surf club in Greece.

Karpathos – Windsurfing Off the Beaten Path

Unlike the rest of the Greek islands for windsurfing on this list, Karpathos tends to see less tourism. It’s known more for its beautiful, tranquil nature than nightlife and party beaches.

For those who want to have fun with water sports but avoid the tourist crowds, it’s a perfect destination.

Windsurfers tend to head to Afiartis on the southern tip of the island. Many surf clubs operate here, and the conditions are great for the sport, with steady, strong thermal winds.

Greece has so many destinations offering water sports that it can be hard to determine which ones to choose. However, the five Greek islands listed above are undoubtedly some of the best spots for windsurfing in the entire world.

For beginners and pros alike, all these beautiful places will offer some amazing experiences on the sea.

Dutch Travelers’ Pilot Holiday on Rhodes Earns Rave Reviews

Rhodes holiday
Dutch tourists participating in the Safe Corridor pilot vacation to Rhodes. Credit: SunWeb Group

The Dutch vacationers who visited the Greek island of Rhodes last week as a government-backed experiment to see if tourism is feasible during the pandemic have uniformly positive impressions of their all-inclusive holiday.

The pilot holiday scheme, called “Safe Corridor”, was organized by Dutch tour operator Sunweb and Air France Group’s Transavia Airlines, with the approval of the Greek and Dutch governments.

Rhodes holiday
The Dutch vacationers started off their holiday with a warm welcome from the island of Rhodes. Credit: Mitsis Group

The group of 188 vacationers, who were selected from over 250,000 applicants, paid 399 euros per person for the eight-day all-inclusive vacation, at the 5-star Mitsis Grand Hotel Rhodes.

Strict health and safety protocols during Rhodes holiday

The “Safe Corridor” vacation trial with the Dutch travelers was carried out with the purpose of collecting data on safe and responsible travel during the pandemic.

Therefore, extremely specific, detailed hygiene protocols had to be followed by all the travelers from start to finish.

The Dutch vacationers took both a PCR and a rapid test at 72 hours and at 4 hours respectively before their inbound and outbound flights.

Rhodes holiday
Sunweb employed strict health and safety protocols before each flight to Rhodes. Credit: SunWeb Group

During their stay on the island, they were not allowed to leave the hotel premises.

The same rule applied for the hotel staff as well, who underwent PCR tests before the beginning and at the end of the program and stayed at the hotel throughout the eight-day period.

Rhodes holiday
Dutch vacationers enjoy the Greek sun and pool aerobics during their eight-day, all-inclusive stay. Credit: SunWeb Group

Five days after their return to the Netherlands, all the guests will have to undergo a new PCR test as well.

“The successful outcome of the project contributes to the promotion of Greece as a safe holiday destination and marks the smooth start of the tourist season and the gradual return to normalcy,” stated Stavros Mitsis, the managing director of Mitsis Hotels.

Rhodes holiday
Hotel staff checked the temperature of all the guests upon their arrival. Credit: SunWeb Group

“The feedback of all the guests is very positive and, despite the restrictions, which were known in advance, everyone enjoyed a wonderful vacation. The security protocols established by Sunweb Group and the Dutch government were strictly implemented by the hotel,” the Director of tour operator Sunweb, Reinoud Koot, added in a statement.

More travelers arrive in pilot opening of tourist season

While the Dutch vacationers are now on their way back home, Greece’s pilot lifting of its quarantine requirement began on Monday, April 19.

Rhodes holiday
Dutch vacationers who were part of the “Safe Corridor” pilot vacation program thank the island of Rhodes for their experience by hanging a hand-painted banner from their hotel room balcony. Credit: Mitsis Group

The country will now open its doors to a limited number of American, British, EU, UAE, Serbian and Israeli travelers who either are vaccinated, have recovered from Covid-19 or can show a negative PCR test upon arrival.

This trial move was designed to lead up to the official launch of the 2021 tourism season on May 14.

Similarly to the “Safe Corridor” holiday trial scheme on Rhodes, this soft opening of the tourism sector is expected to help authorities in identifying policy gaps and omissions ahead of the generalized travel ban being lifted for visitors and residents alike.

In the context of the efforts to walk into the tourist season safely, the Greek Minister of Tourism announced that employees in the tourism and hospitality sector will be the next group of citizens in line to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

European Super League to End Football as We Know It

European Super League
Camp Nou, Barcelona vs Chelsea. Credit: Mark Freeman/Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

The creation of a European Super League, an idea that began to develop in 2009, became a reality twelve years later that might signal the end of football as we know it.

Or — as the majority of fans around Europe loudly shouted to the heavens yesterday, it may mean the end of football — period.

The twelve teams that decided to form the European Super League as an elite championship have enraged millions of football fans, as well as former players and coaches.

The founding – and governing – members of the European Super League are AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Internazionale, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur.

Large clubs with a long and illustrious history such as Bayern, Ajax, Paris Saint Germain, Benfica and others refused to join this elite group, claiming that a closed league would destroy the joy of football.

The big money

It is all about money, of course. JP Morgan has been raising investment funds for a year now. The twelve founders of the group are said to guarantee a 6 billion euro start-up bonus and another 3.5 billion for infrastructure.

The structure of the League will be like that of the NBA: The founders will decide everything – especially the distribution of money.

In addition, the founders look for eight more clubs to join so they will have a 20-team league, or two separate leagues of ten each.

It is estimated that the clubs of the European Super League will be receiving a minimum of 260 million euros per year for the next five years.

All twelve clubs plan to continue to participate in the national league of their country — but this is where UEFA and FIFA draw the line and threaten to not allow even that. They are also threatening that players in the European Super League will not be allowed to play for their national team.

The greed of the major clubs

In essence, what is happening is that the owners of the big clubs want to make more money out of their investment. And the timing is right, now that the coronavirus has “robbed” a chunk of their annual profits.

However, the reality of the sport at the moment is that the little guys are the ones who have been hurt the most by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s just that the big guys have now found the right timing to launch the new League. After all, the global television market brings in much more profits than local television rights and attendance in the big club arenas.

Asia, Africa and, to a lesser extent, the United States, are giant TV markets where elite European football is massively popular.

Football fans in these countries will foam at the mouth with the promise that they will be watching giants playing against each other every week for a whole season.

And while Britain’s Premier League is the most commercial championship in the world, the paricipation of the six biggest clubs in the European Super League makes the new project more enticing to the global TV market.

The little guys

In the history of the world, it is always the powerful that determine the game. This time the powerful players in international football are making the rules.

So why share the big money with the little guys? Why should a small or medium-sized club in the UEFA Champions League take a part of the profit? Why shouldn’t the big clubs hoard all the money?

It is a sad reality, as are the quarantines, the coronavirus threat, the shutting down of small businesses, social isolation and many other things that no one could think of a couple of decades ago.

“Against Modern Football”

The “Against Modern Football” grass roots movement that has been against the notion of “profit before the love of the sport” has now been vindicated.

Football is the most popular sport in the world. That was true before it became big business from the mid-1990s and onward.

Football is far more than watching a game. It is connected with countless rituals, traditions, customs and behavior in society.

It is the love for the jersey and the team’s emblem, the talk before the game and the analysis afterward, it is going to the match with your friends, it is celebrating the win with them, or sharing tears after a loss.

It is the love for the club that the father passes to the son, as his own father did for him. It is the anticipation of a big game, it is teasing your rival team friends before or after a match.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) have roundly condemned the forming of the European Super League. France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson also opposed the project openly.

Football is, as Greek sportscaster Christos Sotirakopoulos put it, “the most important secondary thing in one’s life.”

After all, in Greece we say that one can change his religious beliefs and switch parties and sides in politics, but we will never switch football teams.

Greek Coast Guard Dismantles Illegal Migrant Trafficking Network

migrant trafficking
The speedboat apprehended near the coast of the Greek island of Kos. Credit: Greek Coast Guard.

A 43-year-old foreigner was arrested on Monday on the island of Kos on suspicion of running a migrant trafficking network. According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy and the Greek Coast Guard on Tuesday, the man is currently in police custody, along with three others.

Three arrested outside Kos airport suspected of migrant trafficking

The 43-year-old man was apprehended outside Kos airport on suspicion of trafficking a 23-year-old and a 27-year-old migrant. The trafficking network allegedly operated by having illegal migrants stay on Kos for a short period before facilitating their travel using falsified documents.

The 43-year-old was arrested on charges of forgery and espionage following a search of his home on Kos where audiovisual material was discovered. This material will be sent to the central Criminal Investigation Department for investigation.

Kos migrant
The items seized in connection with the case by Greek police. Credit: Greek Coast Guard.

The 23-year-old and 27-year-old foreigners were arrested for presenting allegedly falsified travel documents during border control procedures.

Speedboat chase near Kos in connection with trafficking

On Monday afternoon, a Kalymnos Port Authority patrol boat became engaged in a boat chase in the “Foka” area of the sea near Kos. When the boat was finally stopped, officers discovered there were eight foreigners on board.

It is alleged that none of them had valid travel documents.

The passengers of the immobilized boat were transported to the port of Kos, where they disembarked. One of the eight passengers, a 23-year-old who was driving the boat, was promptly identified as the alleged trafficker by the remaining seven passengers.

The 23-year-old who pilot was also identified by the 23-year-old and 27-year-old arrested at the airport as having allegedly brought them to Kos seven days prior. Subsequently, he was arrested on suspicion of illegal entry into the country and human trafficking.

The migrant trafficking ring which allegedly operates by bringing individuals from Turkey to Kos and then on to mainland Greece has been under police investigation since November of 2020.

A video of the Kalymnos Port Authority boat apprehending the speedboat is shown below:

 

Greek Ferries to Start Season Using Vaccine Certificates, Rapid Tests

Greek ferries
Greek Shipping and Islands Police Minister Plakiotakis stated that Green vaccine certificates and self-tests will enable ferries to resume their operation. Credit: Patricia Claus/Greek Reporter

Greek Shipping and Islands Police Minister Giannis Plakiotakis stated to the press on Tuesday that Greek ferries will be using vaccination certificates, self-tests and rapid tests to enable the tourist season to begin this year.

“Τhe green digital vaccination certificate, rapid tests and self tests will be used for voyages with ferries,” the Shipping Minister said earlier today.

Plakiotakis further stated that ferries with cabins will start out at a 55% occupancy rate and those without cabs will be allowed to have only a 50% occupancy rate.

All the appropriate health protocols will be reviewed and updated according to the course of the epidemiological data received as time goes on, he added.

Uncertainty over exactly when ferries will start running again

The Minister made his remarks after his meeting with the regional governor of Central Macedonia, Apostolos Tzitzikostas.

“In close cooperation with the Health Ministry’s agencies, of the National Public Health Organisation and the epidemiologists, we will maket targeted interventions in the reviewing of the health protocols,” Plakiotakis said.

“We hope that through the reform of the health protocol and the progress of the vaccinations, to have a wall of immunity in the Summer in order to be able to experience some normalcy,” the Minister added.

However, Plakiotakis did not reveal precisely when ferry and ship travel for non-essential reasons will resume again or how the vaccination passport, self-tests and the rapid-test system will work.

Regarding Thessaloniki’s ferry link with the northern and southern Aegean, he stated that the Ministry is promoting long-term contracts in order for these ferry routes to be made permanent and stable.

Greece’s pilot lifting of its quarantine requirement began on Monday as the country reopened for American, British, EU, UAE, Serbian and Israeli travelers who either are vaccinated, have recovered from Covid-19 or can show a negative PCR test upon arrival.

This soft opening of the tourism sector is expected to help authorities in identifying policy gaps and omissions ahead of the official launch of the 2021 tourism season on May 14, when the travel ban is scheduled to be lifted for visitors and residents alike.

For the time being, however, travelers to Greece will need to follow the same restrictions that apply to residents, such as the nightly curfew and the limited travel between regions.

Greece reopens for US travelers for the first time in a year

Under current rules, all foreigners arriving in Greece must test negative and quarantine for seven days.

These first few travelers who will be exempt from the quarantine rules, as part of the kickoff of Greece’s “Green Initiative”, must arrive either through the airports of Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Chania, Rhodes, Kos, Mykonos, Santorini and Corfu, or through two distinct border crossings.

This is the first time in more than a year that the travel ban will be lifted for US travelers, who have been banned from entering Greece since March of 2020.

The quarantine rules had already been lifted for Israeli tourists last week as Greek authorities decided to accept 10,000 vaccinated Israeli tourists per week.

The official opening of the tourist season on May 14 has been much anticipated by the pandemic-hit tourism and hospitality sector, which remains a key growth driver for the country’s economy.

Passenger Locator Form (PLF) document required

Under the “Green Initiative” scheme for international arrivals, all travelers must complete their PLF document, downloadable from the Visit Greece app and at travel.gov.gr, until the day before entering Greece and leaving their country of origination.

The form will provide detailed information on their point of departure, the duration of previous stays in other countries, and the address of their stay in Greece. In case of multiple stays, travelers are required to provide their address for at least the first 24 hours of their stay. Only one PLF is to be submitted per family.

Upon submission of their PLF, travelers will receive a confirmation email.

The submitted document and their unique Quick Response (QR) code are to be received on the day of their scheduled arrival in Greece, again via email.

Travelers boarding or embarking on the day prior to arrival will be allowed to do so upon showing just the confirmation email, since they will only receive their QR code during their flight or voyage.

It is strongly recommended that all visitors download the Visit Greece app (which is GDPR compliant) for free, prior to their arrival in Greece.

Greek Ministers In Saudi Arabia For Missile Talks

Saudi Arabia missiles
Greece will soon deploy a Patriot air defense missile system in Saudi Arabia. Credit: Darkone, CC BY-SA 2.5/Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday, the National Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos and the Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias arrived in Saudi Arabia to discuss the deployment of a Greek missile system in the country.

The ministers are expected to hold a series of talks with multiple members of the Saudi Arabian government in Riyadh.

Meetings with high-ranking officials

Dendias will be meeting with multiple high-ranking government officials. This impressive list includes the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the State Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Panagiotopoulos will also be conducting talks with the Deputy Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Greek missiles to be deployed in Saudi Arabia

These meetings with Saudi officials are expected to culminate in the signing of a new agreement between Greece and Saudi Arabia. Use of the Greek Patriot air missile system is desired by the Saudi Arabian government in order to protect its energy infrastructure.

Talks regarding the use of these defensive missiles began in October 2019 after the Yemeni strike on state-owned company Aramco in Saudi Arabia on September 14.

In February of 2020, government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters that the deployment will “strengthen our ties to Saudi Arabia.” He was also quick to highlight the defensive nature of the missiles, maintaining that they do not pose any threat to neighboring countries.

Plans for the operation of Greek missiles in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Arabian government will purchase the missiles, but they will be deployed by Greek defense personnel. The program under which the Greek government is selling the missiles to Saudi Arabia also involves input from the US, UK, and French governments.

The Saudis will cover transportation and operation costs of the Patriot battery from Greece, and will also finance the upgrade of the Greek anti-aircraft systems to the PAC-3 version.

Greece’s agreement with Saudi Arabia will include contracts for all necessary Air Force personnel, with at least 40 officers and non-commissioned officers being transferred to the Gulf country to oversee the deployment and use of the Patriot system.

Three Greeks Charged with Drug Smuggling Arrested Near Northern Border

Drug smugglers
The drugs, arms and money seized by the Greek police on Sunday as part of an alleged drug smuggling ring. Credit: Greek Police

Three Greek citizens accused of being a part of a drug smuggling ring operating in Northern Greece were arrested on Sunday. The smugglers allegedly brought 55.5 kilograms (1957 ounces) of cannabis as well as two deadly weapons into Greece before being arrested and having their cargo seized.

The men were apprehended in Kilkis, Northern Greece, where Greek police also managed to confiscate 139 bullets, the mens’ phones, and €3,350 ($4,034).

Alleged drug smuggling ring busted in Kilkis

The police charge unknown members of the smuggling ring of bringing the three bags of raw cannabis and weapons across the Greek border and handing them to an individual, who has now been arrested.

This individual allegedly brought the cargo to two other men in Kilkis, who then drove them into the city of Thessaloniki in two vehicles. There, the men were stopped by police and arrested.

A fourth individual has been identified but not yet arrested in connection to the case in Thessaloniki.

Multiple drug rings operating in Greece

There have been several arrests over the past few days in connection with drug smuggling into Greece. Drug smugglers attempted to smuggle more than five kilograms (176 ounces) of heroin into Greece from Turkey on Sunday.

Using a plastic boat, they crossed the Evros River before being arrested the same day.

Similar events occurred at the Greek-Albanian border on Saturday, where several individuals were arrested in an alleged attempt to smuggle over more than fifty kilograms (110 pounds) of cannabis.

The men were apprehended by Greek Border police with the help of Frontex (the European Border and Coast Guard Agency) forces. The cannabis which was discovered hidden within luggage, was supposed to be handed over to other individuals part of the Greek drug ring for distribution.

Drug use becoming more prevalent during pandemic

Daily analysis of wastewater in Attica, conducted by a special research team at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, has shown an alarming spike in drug abuse, especially cocaine, and the use of psychiatric medications amongst its citizens in the past year.

According to the team’s findings, cocaine use in March of 2020, when the nation’s first lockdown was put in place, doubled compared to March of 2019.

 

Coronavirus Cases, Intubations Continue to Rise in Greece

Coronavirus
Lockdown in Evia, Greece. Credit: Greek Reporter

The number of patients with the coronavirus who are on ventilators in Greece, as well as the total number of cases diagnosed in the country, remain high on Tuesday.

Greece recorded 847 coronavirus patients on ventilators Tuesday, the same figure that was recorded on Monday.

It amounts to the highest number of coronavirus patients on ventilators since the start of the pandemic.

The country also recorded 3,789 cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, which marks 2,182 more instances of Covid-19 than the 1,607 cases that had been diagnosed in the country on Monday.

A total of 78,428 coronavirus tests were conducted across the country during the day, bringing the positivity rate to 4.83% in Greece, down from 7.7% yesterday.

Tragically, 87 people suffering from the coronavirus passed away in the country over the past 24-hour period, which represents nine more than those who died with the virus on Monday.

Wastewater samples from Attica and Crete show major spike in Covid-19

Regular analysis of the wastewater in Attica, as well as in the areas of Agios Nikolaos and Rethymno in Crete, has shown a dramatic spike in Covid-19 transmission in the regions.

The latest figures from the wastewater analysis, conducted from April 12 to the 18, indicate that the viral load in Attica, where Athens is located, has increased by a stunning 171%.

A significant spike in transmission has been identified in Agios Nikolaos, east of Heraklion in Crete, where the viral load has jumped by 360%.

In Rethymno, also located on the Greek island, transmission has increased by 160%.

Wastewater analysis is fundamental to understanding the complete epidemiological picture in the country, as it can reveal areas in Greece where the virus is concentrated, and it includes those with the coronavirus who may be asymptomatic and therefore go untested.

1,799 cases of Covid-19 diagnosed Attica alone; 512 in Thessaloniki

Of the 3,789 coronavirus cases recorded in Greece in the past 24 hours, 1,799 were located in Attica, home to the Greek capital city of Athens.

Instances of the virus were particularly high in the center of the city itself, where 549 cases of Covid-19 were identified Tuesday.

Tests showed that in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, a total of 512 cases of Covid-19 had been diagnosed in the last 24 hours.

 

EMA acknowledges rare blood clot risk with Johnson and Johnson vaccine

The European Union’s drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), acknowledged a link between the single-dose Johnson and Johnson coronavirus vaccine and instances of blood clots in the US on Tuesday.

Considering the connection between the vaccine and dangerous blood clots, although rare, the EMA stressed that a warning of the serious side effect should be included on the vaccine’s label.

The EMA argues, however, that much like the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has also been linked to blood clots in women under 60, the benefits of being inoculated with the Johnson & Johnson shot far outweigh the risks.

According to the most recent numbers, the risk of suffering the rare condition is about one case per one million inoculations with the shot.

All of the instances of blood clots included in the EMA’s analysis of the J&J shot occurred in women under the age of 60. They all suffered blood clots within three weeks of inoculation.

The study included the eight reported cases in the US, where use of the one-shot vaccine has been suspended due to its links with the potentially life-threatening medical condition.

Over 300,000 total cases of the Coronavirus identified in the country

Since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 320,629 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the country, including all those who have recovered from the virus.

Of the cases diagnosed in Greece in the past seven days, just 50 are associated with foreign travel and 2,960 have been linked to contact with a known case.

Of the 847 patients intubated currently, 85.5% are over the age of 70 or suffer from preexisting conditions. Their average age is 68.

On Tuesday alone, 406 people with the coronavirus were admitted to hospitals in Greece.

Additionally, a total of 1,963 patients have been discharged from ICUs around the country since the beginning of the pandemic.

The 87 new deaths recorded on Tuesday bring the total number of fatalities in the country to 9,627; 95.5% of those who have passed away with the virus were over the age of 70 or suffered from underlying health issues.

How Churches Will Operate Over Holy Week and Greek Easter

Greek easter greece churches
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain

The Holy Synod, the governing body of the Church of Greece, released details regarding the celebration of Holy Week and Greek Easter on Tuesday.

As Greece’s months-long coronavirus lockdown stretches into the Spring, Greeks have been left wondering how they will celebrate the country’s most important holiday, Greek Easter, as well as the other services held throughout Holy Week.

Resurrection service at 9:00 pm, outside churches in Greece

According to the decision, the faithful will be permitted to celebrate the Resurrection service on Holy Saturday, May 1, at 9:00 PM on the grounds outside of churches — not inside.

The service is traditionally held just before midnight on Holy Saturday, on the eve of Easter Sunday, with worshippers packed together indoors, holding lit candles.

The move was made in order to prevent spread of the coronavirus inside of churches, as there is a reduced risk of viral transmission outdoors, and to avoid violating the country’s 9:00 PM curfew as much as possible.

Additionally, many services will be livestreamed for the faithful who are unable to attend.

Holy Week services leading up to Greek Easter to be held earlier

The other services held throughout the duration of the week leading up to Greek Easter, or Holy Week, will also be moved up to an earlier time in churches across Greece.

On Holy Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, services will take place at 6:30 PM, a half-an-hour earlier than they are normally held.

Liturgies for Holy Thursday and Good Friday will be held at 5:30 PM and 6:00 PM, respectively.

These services will be held inside, with strict social distancing and mandatory use of masks in the church, with a maximum of 100 worshipers allowed entry, with a limit of one person per 25 square meters.

Greek Easter traditions upended by pandemic

Plans for a traditional Greek Easter in the ancestral village will have to be dropped for a second consecutive year as the ban on nonessential travel between regions of Greece is unlikely to be lifted by that time.

A number of health experts have warned that lifting the current ban on Easter celebrations will undermine the national effort to contain the spread of Covid-19 ahead of the country’s formal reopening to international tourists on May 14.

Through his statements following a meeting with the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos had already cautioned the people that they might hear this unwelcome news as Easter approaches.

However, fewer restrictions will be in force compared to 2020, when Easter liturgies all across Greece were held behind closed doors and in the absence of faithful to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

62% of Greeks yearn for Easter back in the village

Traditionally, Greek people travel to family-owned homes in the countryside or on the islands to celebrate the most significant religious event of the Orthodox calendar year.

It is an opportunity to not only herald the arrival of spring, but also to reunite with family and observe significant cultural traditions and religious ceremonies. 

According to a national poll conducted by Alco on behalf of the Greek channel Open Beyond TV, at least 6 in 10 residents of Greece believe that the traditional Easter exodus should be allowed.

However, it is believed that the government will only allow travel between municipalities of the same region and gatherings of up to nine persons on Easter Day, in light of the latest safety concerns.

Nikos Tzanakis, a professor of Pneumonology at the University of Crete, opined on SKAI news on Friday, April 16 that “every church at Easter can become the birthplace of many cases.”

The head of the Pulmonology Clinic at Evangelismos Hospital, Dr. George Boulbasakos, told ERT news on Saturday, April 17 that he recommended “not to meet other people who do not belong to your same social bubble.”

Even the Director of the Infectious Diseases Unit in Patras University Hospital, Charalambos Gogos, told interviewers from ERT TV on Sunday that a mass exodus to family homes ought not to be considered this year.