The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Greece has risen to 1,673 according to the latest updates from the country’s Health Ministry.
At the time of this update a total of 22,500 COVID-19 tests had been conducted in Greece.
Less than 24 hours ago, infectious diseases expert Professor Sotiris Tsiodras had reported that the death toll had climbed to 63.
“The new number includes 121 cases from onboard the Eleftherios Venizelos ferry, currently anchored off the port of Piraeus,” said Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias.
The 201 remaining people on the passenger ferry who tested negative (mostly foreign workers), will be transferred to hotels for a period of quarantine before being repatriated.
Meanwhile, United Nations warns that ‘Everyone is at risk’ as coronavirus cases tick up among migrants and refugees sheltering in Greece.
The Ritsona site – a one-hour drive from Athens – about 75 kilometres away – is one of 30 facilities on the Greek mainland that accommodate a total of more than 25,000 people, UN News reports.
“The authorities have put it under quarantine for the next 14 days after the first confirmed COVID-19 case emerged on Tuesday. Its residents, including 252 unaccompanied children, have been advised to remain in their accommodation as contract tracing and further testing continues.”
“Everyone is at risk. Migrants and refugees in Greece are susceptible to the virus as much as the Greek community,” said Gianluca Rocco, Chief of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Mission in Greece.
“It is critical that everyone, including migrant and refugees on the mainland and the islands, are ensured equal access to health services, including prevention, testing and treatment, especially in times like these,” Mr. Rocco said.
“Immediate inclusion of all migrants in the national response to COVID-19 is not only a humanitarian measure, but essential to public health policy in Greece. The threat of COVID-19 makes it even more urgent to decongest the camps on the islands. IOM is contributing to these efforts with the creation of new accommodation arrangements on the mainland.”
As reported by the UN, IOM is also establishing a temporary voluntary return mechanism on the five islands for those who decide to return to their home countries, in collaboration with the European Commission and Greek authorities.
The implementation and duration of that programme will be adjusted in line with virus-related measures taken by the EU states, such as the closure of airports or other travel restrictions.
“This is, however, not an easy task and needs further measures and support from European Union member States,” Mr. Rocco added, calling once again for European solidarity with Greece in pushing the urgent relocation of unaccompanied children and other migrants to European countries willing to share responsibility.
With funding from the European Union, the IOM is present in all 30 open accommodation facilities on the Greek mainland, distributing cleansers and soaps to all residents. It is also translating and handing out guidance on how refugees and migrants can best guard against infection.