COVID-19: A Snapshot View from Greece
Published on Apr 11, 2020. Updated on Sep 15, 2020.
To truly understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to take a look from different perspectives around the world. In today's COVID-19 Stories from Around the World blog article, Dr. Antonia Syrnioti and Dr. Maria Emfietzoglou, Physicians and Osmosis Scriptwriters from Greece, share their point of view on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, the virus has spread around the world and been declared a pandemic by the WHO. In Greece, the first case was confirmed on February 26, 2020, in an individual who had recently made a trip to Northern Italy. This diagnosis was followed by more recent cases concerning groups of travelers to Israel and Egypt, as well as their contacts. As the outbreak progressed, more and more cases of unknown origin were reported, indicating a possible local transmission of the virus.
As of April 10 2020, Greece has more than 2,000 confirmed cases. However, due to the limited number of testing kits, testing is only reserved for older adults, people with severe illness, and healthcare personnel. As a result, epidemiologists estimate that the real total number of cases is much higher. Of these confirmed cases, 269 people have recovered, and 91 people have passed away, the vast majority of whom had serious underlying conditions.
What’s Greece’s government doing about COVID-19?
Since the beginning of March, the Greek government has announced several measures. Specifically, some of them include nationwide suspension of the operation of all educational institutions of all levels, open care centers for older adults, theatres, courthouses, cinemas, gyms, playgrounds, clubs, organized beaches and ski resorts, museums and archaeological sites, as well as all malls, cafés, restaurants, bars and food outlets, excluding supermarkets and pharmacies.
Regarding travel, Greece has suspended all road, sea, and air links with Albania and North Macedonia, air links and ferry services to and from Italy, air links to Spain, as well as all cruise ships and sailboats docking in Greek ports. A particularity of Greece is the scattering of a large number of geographically isolated islands, so it was also decided that only permanent residents will be allowed to travel to the islands by ferry.
How are the people of Greece adjusting to life under COVID-19?
The larger part of Greece’s population has been trying to adjust to these unprecedented circumstances by practicing social distancing, implementing hygiene measures and following experts’ guidance.
In order to help stop the spread of the virus, companies have encouraged “work from home” practices. Academic institutions, such as schools and universities, have started delivering online courses. In addition, several artists have arranged online performances to support people who confine themselves at home. Movie theaters announced that they will show taped plays online for free, museums are offering unlimited online audiovisual content, and famous athletes, actors, and public figures are participating in campaigns that stress the need for self-isolation and proper hand washing practices.
What about people in Greece who aren’t following the recommendations?
Not all citizens comply fully with governmental measures and social distancing recommendations. Some continue to gather in parks, visit friends, or line up in supermarkets daily to buy things they don’t necessarily need. There have been over 230 cases where people breached government recommendations, including opening of cafes, restaurants, or department stores.
Consequently, on March 22, the Greek government decided to implement draconian measures to enforce social distancing: starting from March 23, movement outside of the house is only permitted to serve needs that cannot be otherwise met. More specifically, movement is restricted except to transfer to and from work—if working from home is impossible—or to visit a doctor, pharmacy, supermarket, or bank. Movement is allowed to help other people in need, but also to exercise outdoors or go for a walk with your pet.
Driving is also allowed only for the above reasons and it is not permitted to have more than one passenger in a vehicle.
In addition, citizens are asked to carry movement certificates describing the purpose of their movement and to carry their identity cards or passports whenever they leave their home. People who fail to do this are punished with a 150 euro fine.
We must hold strong during this time
In Greece, the truly difficult times are still ahead of us. Authorities expect the number of cases and critically ill patients to increase dramatically, following the exponential increase shown in other European countries, such as Italy, Spain and France. The upcoming period will be crucial for the course of the pandemic at a national level and will decide Greece’s fate on the coronavirus.
On March 11, Greece’s Health Minister announced measures to raise the line of the healthcare system: 2,000 healthcare workers have been hired to support the public hospitals around the country. Finally, everyone hopes that the control measures implemented relatively early on compared to other countries will work, and the national healthcare system will not be overwhelmed during the crisis.
About Dr. Syrnioti & Dr. Emfietzoglou
Dr. Antonia Syrnioti has recently graduated from medical school of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and is currently specializing in Pathology. She has been working as a script writer for Osmosis since 2017. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, meditating and reading books.
Dr. Μaria Emfietzoglou is a medical school graduate from Greece and is considering specializing in Neurology. She has been working as a script writer for Osmosis since 2018. When she’s not reading medical books, Maria is spending time with her family and friends, or doing pilates.
We will be sharing more COVID-19 Stories from Around the World in the coming days. For more updates and an opportunity to pledge to #RaiseTheLine and earn 3 weeks of Osmosis Prime, check out our COVID-19 resource page.
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