Greece reports 2 new COVID-19 cases, cancels carnival

Greece reports 2 new COVID-19 cases, cancels carnival

Greece virus
An elderly couple wearing face masks sit outside AHEPA hospital in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, Greece. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

ATHENS: Greece on Thursday (Feb 27) reported two new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to three, and said it would suspend all carnival celebrations in the country.

The health ministry said one of the cases involved the son of a 38-year-old woman in the northern town of Thessaloniki who became the first confirmed case in Greece. The woman had recently returned from Milan in northern Italy, epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe.

The boy's school in Thessaloniki will be shut for two weeks and his entire class will stay at home, the school's principal told state TV ERT.

The third reported case, in Athens, was a female who had also visited northern Italy.

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Greece on Thursday cancelled all carnival festivities planned for the weekend as two new coronavirus cases were found in Thessaloniki and Athens, officials said.

"Based on (expert) recommendation, and to protect public health ... we have decided to cancel carnival events in all of Greece, as other European countries have done," health minister Vassilis Kikilias told a news conference.

There is a major shortage of protective masks in Greece, with pharmacists only accepting orders for two items per person, and prices spiking.

The Greek government this week said a shutdown of some public areas and travel restrictions would be activated in case of a mass outbreak.

The measures, contained in a government decree, include temporary travel bans to and from countries with a large number of infections, and enable beds to be requisitioned in hotels and private clinics.

The decree also foresees the temporary closure of "indoor public gathering areas" such as schools, places of worship, cinemas, theatres, sports halls and businesses.

"We are ready to do whatever is necessary to protect public health," government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters.

Greece's health ministry has earmarked 13 hospitals nationwide to handle virus cases.

Governments ramped up measures on Thursday to battle a looming pandemic of the coronavirus as the number of new infections outside China outpaced, for the first time, new cases in the country where the outbreak began.

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Source: Agencies/nr