Since the start of the pandemic in Greece, less than three thousand infections have been recorded and 151 deaths due to coronavirus - this is one of the lowest rates in Europe. Restrictive measures in the country began to be introduced in early March on the advice of the epidemiologist Sotiris Tsodras. Since May 4, Greece has been quarantining gradually. I spoke with Greek volunteers about how they evaluate the actions of the government and what consequences of the pandemic they fear.
Compared to other countries, the positive trends that we see in Greece are due to several reasons. First, and most importantly, Greece began to act very early, following the instructions of local experts. The isolation that ensued allowed the healthcare system to invest in intensive care units - more beds and medical staff appeared. The health system, which is just emerging from a period of constant underfunding, has accepted the challenge. And the media played an important role in informing citizens.
Secondly, the determination of the Greek people to follow the rules established by the state played a large role. The actions of the Greek government were based on scientific evidence - this inspired young people to join the proposed measures. First, schools were closed, then shops, and then complete isolation ensued. This is true. Everything that happened in Italy was too close to Greece to leave room for any other maneuver. Our study shows that if we had not taken any measures, more than 4,000 people would have died.
Recently, the government announced a phased lifting of restrictions. Some stores have already resumed operation, but there is a recommendation to wear masks indoors. The set of current restrictive measures is similar to loosening hard rules, but we must be vigilant. After removing each restriction, they will conduct closed monitoring of the impact of this decision on epidemiological indicators. If we understand that we are coping, we will proceed to remove the next restriction. The state has a plan - it is important that citizens follow it.
It is still unclear how the issue of trips abroad will be resolved. To a large extent, this depends on epidemiological trends after the opening of all borders. This is a cross-border cooperation issue, not only Greece will decide. We are now completing the first phase of the pandemic and should be prepared for a potential second wave. It is important that we automate all possible processes. Our young scientists have already digitized methods of work; they also study in volunteer projects and universities through digital platforms. We apply our knowledge from the first wave of coronavirus in the development of maps for managing future threats. We can already calculate how much time and resources are needed to support the healthcare system, although it is very difficult to maintain investment in this area.
In Greece, it’s not that the coronavirus was defeated, but compared to many European countries the situation here looks much better. We have less than three thousand infected and 151 dead. The first signs of coronavirus in Greece appeared in early March - among young people who returned from Italy. Around the same time, a bus with pilgrims, who visited Jerusalem, returned to Greece - half of the bus was infected. There were the first dead.
Greece is a country in Europe where everyone has his own opinion. This also applies to coronavirus. In the early days of the epidemic, some laughed, others ironized, and others were indignant. But in the end, the vast majority took quarantine as a new reality - young people were worried about their health and life. When in Greece 10 people died, in Italy there were 10-12 thousand deaths. Everyone heard about it, were afraid of repetition and sat at home.In the Greek government there was a man who knew what to do, and led this story. This is a doctor, an educated epidemiologist - Sotiris Tsodras. Nobody knew him before, but now his name sounds more often than the Prime Minister. Tsodras does not make decisions, but recommends measures to the government.
Young Greeks were forced to isolate themselves, among other things, due to the prolonged crisis in the healthcare system: there is no reason to count on medicine. Many public hospitals have been in decline for 10 years. Every second who studied as a doctor in Greece leaves for other European countries. Less than three thousand fell ill, and if there were 15–20 thousand, where would they be treated? What services would they provide? No one knows. During the coronavirus, the Greek government is forced to support public health, give money to doctors and clinics in order to somehow save young people. The new reality shows the Greek bourgeois parties of a liberal sense that public health must be supported: medicine will not last only in the private sector.
Although everything goes smoothly, there are unofficial voices on social media that claim that we do not know about all infected people because very few tests are done. At first, they were expensive, and then the chief epidemiologist Sotiris Tsodras said not to make them in large numbers.
Since May 4, new measures have been taken in Greece - the phased lifting of restrictions. If earlier you could only go by personal transport with a statement about where and why you went, now you can ride freely inside your region. On May 18, the ban on movement from one region to another will be lifted. City transport works. Some shops, hairdressing salons, beaches have opened, you can already swim. All so that the economy works a little. But you must wear a mask - otherwise you will get a fine. If you resist, you will pay more. Also, you can not stand close to each other in the queue. Gradually open cafe. In Greece, Italy, Spain taverns, bars and cafeterias are a way of life, this is our culture. Now in many cafeterias plastic glasses are attached to tables, so that people can sit at the same table, but from different sides. The main importer of this plastic says that when it became clear that the cafes would be opened under certain conditions, all reserves of this material disappeared from him. He just does not have time to import it.
Between March 15 and April 30, the state issued 800 euros to young people who do not work. Now everyone is worried about how much the state will give in May. They can open trade in order not to pay this money.
If from a medical point of view, Greece was lucky, then from an economic point of view everything will be much worse than in other European countries. The Greeks are not worried about the virus, but about the crisis. How will we earn money? How to live on? Over the past 10 years, many industries have been destroyed. The country's GDP is 20% dependent on tourism. All hope this year was for the tourist season, but Europe will not open until the end of July. In Greece, they hope that the international tourism season will open at least from the end of August, and are preparing to receive domestic tourists. The government benefits from the current situation. Few sick, few dead - propaganda only speaks about this. But what will happen next? How will the economy work? These questions are also addressed to the government, but for them this is not the strongest card.
In Greece, there are private companies that own the main channels. They are controlled by people who support the government. This is exactly like Soviet television. There is no variety of positions. You can find other opinions on Facebook and other social networks, but the central television channels do the weather. At the beginning of the epidemic, they said that it was necessary to isolate themselves - this is a positive side. But this was followed by: "Long live the government." And it annoys everyone.