Greek PM announces nationwide lockdown to contain virus spread after 15 deaths
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis delivers a televised speech in Athens, Greece, on March 22, 2020. Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced a nationwide lockdown on Sunday as part of measures to contain the further spread of the novel coronavirus, in an address broadcast live on public broadcaster ERT. (Dimitris Papamitsos/Pool via Xinhua)
ATHENS, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced a nationwide lockdown on Sunday as part of measures to contain the further spread of the novel coronavirus, in an address broadcast live on public broadcaster ERT.
The measure takes effect from Monday 6:00 a.m. local time, he said. All unnecessary movement of people is prohibited.
"It must be taken on time, so it is not taken in vain... We need bold and timely initiatives," the Greek prime minister stated.
"I will not allow a frivolous few to undermine the safety of most, because a few irresponsible can harm thousands responsible," he added, thanking those who have stayed at home this March.
Greece now has 15 fatalities related to complications of COVID-19 up from 13 reported on Saturday, the Greek Health Ministry announced shortly earlier in an e-mailed press release.
The number of confirmed infections currently stands at 624. Another 94 new cases were registered from Saturday.
On Sunday, 124 people were hospitalized, including 34 in intensive care units, according to the press announcement.
As of Monday citizens will be required to fill in an application and notify authorities by email or SMS on their movements strictly to and from work, to purchase food or medicine, to visit a doctor or a person that requires care. They will also be allowed to exercise alone or with a second person or walk a dog.
Those who violate the measure will face a minimum of 150 euro (162 U.S. dollars) fine.
Staying at home is essentially the most profound demonstration of collective duty, Mitsotakis stressed.
Since the first infection was reported in Greece on Feb. 26, the country has been gradually beefing up measures to contain the spread of the virus, but a minority of citizens still did not follow instructions.
Since March 12 until Sunday, a total of 233 individuals were arrested nationwide, Greek police announced in an e-mailed press statement on Sunday.
In addition, it was announced that the police have started patrols with loudspeakers asking people to avoid public gatherings and disperse. The message has been recorded in 10 languages, including Greek, English, French, Arabic and Pashto.
Schools, universities, restaurants, coffee shops, shopping malls, retail shops, sports and cultural centers, as well as public parks have been shut down since last week.
Furthermore, restrictions and bans had been imposed on land, air and sea travel from abroad and domestically. (1 euro= 1.08 U.S. dollars)