Coronavirus live: UK lockdown ‘long way’ from lifting, says Hancock; Israel to ban flights in and out of country
Greek health authorities have reported a jump in the number of cases of the coronavirus variant first spotted in the UK. More worryingly, say epidemiologists, the new strain has been detected among people who have not travelled abroad.
Mutations have been diagnosed across Greece, with a 32nd case of the much more contagious variant appearing in the greater Attica region of Athens. One individual had reportedly not been out of the country, perplexing infectious disease experts further. The discovery brings the total number of those detected with the new strain in the capital to 17.
On Saturday the country’s public health organisation EODY announced an additional 605 confirmed coronavirus cases, after 31,000 tests were conducted nationwide. Of that number, 256 were detected in Attica.
In a statement this evening it reported a further 334 infections – Sunday case loads tend to drop because of lower testing rates – bringing the total number to 151,980. The death toll rose to 5,646 following 24 more fatalities. Athens again had the highest number of new, confirmed cases at 162.
Greece has fared relatively well compared with other EU countries, even if suppressing a second wave of the pandemic has taken longer than envisaged. A nationwide lockdown, including a 9pm to 5am curfew, went into force on 7 November.
But with restrictions gradually being rolled back and shops opening for the first time this weekend, officials have been spooked by the sight of long queues outside stores and scenes of unexpectedly large crowds in commercial areas. Although the vast majority were wearing masks, there was almost no social distancing.
Urging Greeks to be “self disciplined”, Panayiotis Stamboulides, a high-ranking official at the ministry of development, said such scenes gave rise to fears of a third wave.
“A third strict lockdown would be catastrophic for all,” he told SKAI news when asked to comment on the scenes of crowds. “Everyone has to exhibit self-discipline and to respect him or herself,” he said, noting that sales primarily of shoes and clothes had risen 30% since curbs were eased.