“The government will inform the national delegation and all Greeks about the situation and I expect all participants to respect the urgency of the situation,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday in Parliament, while briefing the plenary on the situation regarding the pandemic in Greece.
“Our doctors, our nurses, the citizens that are ill, the last thing they would expect to hear from us is another pointless quarrel. Whether we rise to the occasion depends on all of us,” the prime minister added.
“I believe that everything that has happened since March is known, but it is worth conducting a brief review so that we can agree on what the actual facts are,” Mitsotakis said.
“The country managed to stop the first wave of the pandemic. And it did this because everyone, the experts, politicians and primarily citizens, rallied together. The government has never sought exclusivity in praise. In each of my interventions, I thanked the citizens,” the prime minister stressed.
“Today our country has an effective civil defence mechanism. And a national organisation of public health that is nothing like the one we took over. The country has sharply increased the number of tests it carries out. We are around the European average for the tests carried out. We are the first country in Europe to use rapid tests. All this happened between April and today,” Mitsotakis said.
“The goal we all had was to avoid a second horizontal strict lockdown,” Mitsotakis stressed and explained: “We, like all European countries, had to balance two parallel but often opposite needs, the protection of public health and supporting the economy. We opted for local interventions during this time. We explained that if we can adhere to the protection measures recommended by the experts we will be able to avoid a horizontal second lockdown. All European countries did the same,” he added.
Referring to the opening up tourism in the summer, the prime minister attacked main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance over its contradictory stance, saying: “Let me remind you that the opposition was demanding that we open up tourism in May, Mr. Tsipras, and you criticised us for not having done so yet. In tourism also, you said this and then the complete opposite.”
On the contrary, Mitsotakis said “we opened tourism in an organised manner with a strict methodology and tests on a percentage of visitors. If we had done what you told us, that is, mandatory tests on all those who came, we would have 10 pct of what we finally had. The decision would be tantamount to the closure of tourism and not its opening.”
Mitsotakis also underlined that the number of ICUs was immaterial if the problem was not tackled at its source, as any system would eventually be overwhelmed.
“We have seen an aggressive increase in cases in the last 10 days,” the prime minister said. “If we continued at this pace, the health system would receive more than 1,000 patients every day and more than 100 might have needed ICUs.”
However, Mitsotakis said, “the number of ICUs in a country cannot be an alibi for the priorities. Unfortunately some will be taken to the ICU and some will die. There is no health minister in Europe who has not come to the same conclusion. No matter how many units we have, a health system cannot hold up unless we tackle the problem at the start of the chain.”
“Our first way-station will be Christmas. If we succeed, we will spend Christmas in more normal conditions,” the prime minister told Greek lawmakers on Thursday.
“I know that society is scared, tired, anxious, indignant. What we see is that we are unable to convince citizens as effectively as before that they must comply with these basic measures that limit mobility. It is very important that the message sent by the political forces is uniformly the same and is not disputed,” the prime minister added.
“I ask that everyone supports these measures,” Mitsotakis underlined. “We have every reason to believe that these measures will work. It may take a week, 10 days but we will see a decline [in cases]. The coming weeks will be difficult. As they already are difficult for the employees that have to suffer the consequences of the horizontal intervention,” he added.
Concluding his speech in parliament, Mitsotakis stressed: “I close with a sincere call for mobilisation and perspective. We will continue to fight for the protection of public health by listening to the instructions of scientists. With courage and truth. All Greeks are called upon to rise to the occasion and assume their own share of responsibility, to comply with the protection measures … We do not point the finger at anyone. We call on everyone to take into account that responsibility is the twin of freedom. I am sure that this sense of responsibility will be embraced by Greek society and that we will now be able to overcome this great difficulty, to emerge as winners with as few injuries as possible, so that 2021 will be the year of the great restart when we will have left this time of trouble permanently behind us.”