A further 795 new COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths were reported on Saturday in Greece, the first day stricter lockdown measures came into effect.

The update brings the total of recorded cases in the country to 156,473 and raises the number of fatalities to 5,779.

But the most disturbing piece of data at the moment for health authorities is a 45% spike in infections concentrated in Attica over the course of last week.

The rapid increase came after three weeks of improvement in virus figures, and has placed the region on high alert prompting an array of new restrictive measures announced on Friday for the region and other Level B (red alert) areas across the country.

These include the entire prefectures of Mykonos and Lesvos and municipalities of Patra and Sparta.

How the Spartans would fight COVID-19

The new Level B restrictions are set to last at least until Monday, 8 February and largely affect businesses with most retail stores returning to online orders and in-person pickups (click away)

The return of high school (Year 10-12) students to classroom has also been delayed and the curfew extends from 6pm to 5am.

In Attica however, with the exception of two municipalities, the curfew starting time remains at 9pm – as in yellow areas – due to the region’s particularities in higher population concentration and extensive public transport network to prevent a risk of overcrowding in peak hours.

Mandatory mask use in both indoor and outdoor public spaces, the ban on private gatherings, and the SMS facilitated permitted outing for only six reasons are among the measures applying across Greece, regardless of level of alert.

During Friday’s live briefing by the Health ministry’s coronavirus pandemic committee, infectious diseases specialist Vana Papaevangelou said that the 45% rise in Attica’s infections (which led to the stricter lockdown) was recorded across the region “not just a single metropolitan sector or municipality of Attica.”

She noted however that the spread of the virus load in the country’s most heavily-populated region is the not only “disturbing” element.

“We are seeing an increase of hospitalised patients in Attica, where currently the COVID unit has reached 43% capacity and ICU units 61% capacity,” Ms Papaevangelou said.

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