On May 4, 2020, the death rate from Covid-19 in Greece was 5.4%, as opposed to the average global rate of 7.13% and more than 18% in France. However, these figures should be regarded with caution, as the number of tests performed on a population varies from one country to another. In Greece, testing has been limited and is the subject of criticism. On May 6, 8.35 tests were performed for every 1,000 people in Greece. The government nevertheless confirmed that up to 500 mobile teams will be deployed in the coming weeks to test vulnerable groups and people living in closed structures (prisons, retirement homes) as a priority. The number of intubated patients in hospitals continues to decrease from mid-April and the government can establish a plan to ease lockdown measures sooner than in other European countries.
Restrictive and Rapid Measures
Taking into account the weaknesses of the Greek health system, while also closely observing the situation in neighboring Italy, Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ government hoped to avoid the worst. According to the OECD, in 2017, Greece had 4.2 hospital beds per 1,000 people, compared to 6 per 1,000 people in France. Between 2009 and 2015, public health spending per person fell by 37.7%, and more than 20% of intensive or special care units were closed. In order to respond to the crisis, the health ministry announced they would hire an additional 4,200 doctors and hospital personnel. The number of intensive care beds increases from 565 at the end of February to 910 in mid-March, accomplished in large part through requisitioning beds from private health clinics and military hospitals.
On March 12, following the first Covid-19 death and with just 117 cases in the country, drastic measures were taken to prevent the spread of the virus. Schools, universities, child care centers, theaters and recreational centers close. Two days later, Athens closes all non-essential businesses. In Italy, it took 18 days after the first death before such measures were put in place.
These lockdown measures are accompanied by the closing of the country’s land borders. Starting March 15, all travelers entering the country are tested at airports and are taken to requisitioned hotels until results become available. Travelers are after required to undergo self quarantine for 14 days at a declared residence. Flights to and from the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Turkey are suspended from March 23 onward and airline services to other destinations are greatly reduced.