Greece has been compelled to confront the dangers of restarting worldwide tourism after authorities introduced that 12 out of 91 passengers onboard a Qatar Airways flight to Athens had examined optimistic for coronavirus.
The civil safety ministry responded by suspending air hyperlinks to and from the Arab state till 15 June. All 91 travellers on the flight had been instantly positioned in quarantine.
“We knew there can be such instances. We’ve seen what can occur this summer season,” mentioned Prof Nikolaos Sipsas, an professional in infectious illnesses. He advised ANT1 TV that the incident highlighted the diploma to which opening as much as tourism was a calculated danger.
“The most secure [thing] can be to not divulge heart’s contents to tourism however that will imply big financial destruction,” mentioned Sipsas, who sits on the specialist committee advising the Greek authorities on administration of the pandemic. “The very first thing now we have to do is divide international locations of origin into secure and unsafe [categories]. That creates sure diplomatic strain, however for us the primary precedence is public well being.”
The passengers who examined optimistic may have stay remoted in a government-designated lodge for 14 days. At the least two had been reported to be members of Australia’s giant ethnic Greek group, a lot of whom historically return to Greece in the course of the summer season months.
Non-infected passengers can be stored in quarantine for seven days, after which they may bear a second Covid-19 check, based on well being protocols. If then discovered detrimental they are going to be launched from quarantine.
Greece mentioned on Monday it could cowl the prices of accommodating international guests who examined optimistic for the virus. Final week Cyprus, whose financial system can be reliant on tourism, introduced comparable plans. “Our intention is to make sure the utmost security for residents and guests,” mentioned Stelios Petsas, a authorities spokesman.
Greece has managed to maintain a low copy or “R” fee of infections since starting to reverse lockdown restrictions on four Could. Strict enforcement of measures early on has resulted in Greece recording fewer than three,000 instances and a dying toll of 179, one of many lowest in Europe.
However the pandemic has wrought havoc on the eurozone’s most fragile financial system simply because it was beginning to present indicators of restoration after virtually a decade mired in disaster.
Athens’ centre-right administration has declared that each one worldwide flights can resume from 15 June. Saying its plans to “welcome the world” on the weekend, the Greek international ministry mentioned travellers would till the top of the month must bear obligatory Covid-19 assessments upon arrival and a seven- or 14-day interval of quarantine relying on the consequence.
When worldwide routes are allowed to different locations other than Athens and Thessaloniki from 1 July, guidelines can be relaxed with solely spot assessments being carried out.
However the Qatar Airways flight has illuminated the dangers concerned within the plan. “It’s very clear there’s going to be a hazard with vacationers,” mentioned Alkiviadis Vatopoulos, a professor of public well being, emphasising how crucial it was for Greek authorities to have an ample testing system in place.