Health authorities call for caution and common sense ahead of restart of island travel, reopening of restaurants

Greece’s number of new confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases since Saturday were limited to 2, while there were no deaths overnight, infectious diseases doctor and Air Vice-Marshal Dimitrios Hadzigeorgiou said during a televised briefing on Sunday.
The member of the Health ministry’s committee on coronavirus also cited new evidence coming in from international teams examining tissue samples from people who died of the virus, in efforts to understand SARS-CoV-2’s damage in lungs, the organ it affects the most.

Lung damage
Reports in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) have helped define the action of the virus, which resembles that of virus-related pneumonias. They include destruction of the endothelium, microthromboses, and the creation of new but incompletely formed blood vessels, according to NEJM, while JAMA has found in almost all samples similarities to the SARS and MERS damage to lungs.

Sunday stats
Hadzigeorgiou, head of the Air Force General Staff health section, announced that current confirmed infections in Greece stand at 2,878, with 55.2 pct of these being men.
A total of 626 cases were sourced to travel abroad, and 1,635 to already known domestic cases.
Nineteeen people are hospitalized in intensive care units. Of these, 6 are women. At a median of 70 years of age, a total of 84.2 pct had underlying illnesses or were 70+ years old. Another 100 have left ICUs so far.
Greece records to date a total of 171 deaths, with 50 of these being women. The median age was 76 years, and 94.7 pct of the deceased had an underlying disease and/or were 70+ or older.
A total of 153,963 people have been tested in Greece so far. This number is large enough, he said, to allow a clearer sense of the virus’ epidemiological profile in Greece.

Children & schools
He also reassured the public about the possibility of primary school reopening, prior to the government’s decision which will be announced on Monday. Summarizing what is known about the spread of the virus, he reiterated that children a) have a very low chance of infection by the coronavirus, b) tend to have much lighter repercussions once infected (nearly 0.01 pct), and c) have a very low chance of passing it on to adults. These general facts are based on international data, he noted.
Monday is a big day, rolling out the fourth stage of lifting restrictions, Civil Defense Deputy Minister for Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias said, speaking after the doctor.
In general, epidemiological data looks good, the public is observing measures for the most part, and there has been no problem with the reopening of school for grades 7-12.

Hardalias reminded the public that restaurants will open as of Monday, seating people outdoors or in inside spaces with at least one side facing open air. Tables will be spaced 0.70-1.70 m apart, and will seat a maximum of 6 people, exceptions made for families with underaged children. Staff will be obliged to wear masks and observe all sanitary precautions, including in rest rooms. 
Island travel is free as of Monday as well, with the necessary precautions announced several times this past week, including the obligatory wearing of masks by passengers and staff, and the filling out before boarding of travel information for passengers on voyages lasting over 30 minutes.
In addition, special care centers for children, the aged and individuals with disabilities will reopen on Monday as well. Lockdown restrictions in migration and refugee centers will be extended to June 7, the minister said.
He also noted that 15 flights from abroad landed at the Athens International Airport the last 3 days, and of the total of 1,310 arriving passengers none was found to have coronavirus.
For tomorrow, he reiterated, along with Hadzigeorgiou it is important to remember that “the virus will be with us a long time,” and to keep measures of hygiene and personal protection. 
“This effort is a joint one, and the collaboration of state and citizens is necessary,” Hardalias stressed.

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