ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece on Friday extended lockdown restrictions to more areas of the country to stem the spread of COVID-19 infections but lifted it in others where infections receded, its deputy civil protection minister said.
Effective on Saturday the islands of Kalymnos, Cephalonia and Thassos, the city of Heraklion in Crete, Corinth, Nemea and Argos in the Peloponnese and the municipality of Evosmos in the north will be in lockdown until March 1, authorities said.
This means schools, hair salons and non-essential retail shops will close.
“The epidemiological load in the community remains stable. The British variant shows wide dispersion with more than 760 infections,” said Vana Papaevangelou, a member of the committee of infectious disease experts advising the government.
She said health authorities were quite concerned with the spread of the South African variant of the virus in Evosmos, a suburb of the Thessaloniki urban area in northern Greece.
COVID-19 related hospital admissions had risen to an average of 218 daily and the occupancy rate at COVID-19 intensive care units in Athens hospitals stood at 83%.
But the picture in other areas of the country had improved with infections receding and authorities lifted lockdown restrictions in the islands of Santorini and Zakynthos, in Sparta and the town of Agios Nikolaos in Crete.
Greece, which has fared relatively better than others in Europe during the pandemic, was forced to impose a partial lockdown in November after infections began climbing, threatening to overwhelm a health system weakened by a decade-long financial crisis.
Earlier this month the government announced a full lockdown in metropolitan Athens to curb a resurgence in coronavirus cases until Feb. 28.
On Friday, health authorities reported 1,460 new coronavirus cases and 28 deaths, bringing total infections to 177,494 since the first case was detected in February last year and COVID-related deaths to 6,249.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Richard Chang)