ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece will shut one border crossing with Albania and conduct rapid COVID-19 tests on all visitors at its land borders, its government spokesman said on Thursday, as cases in northern Greece continue to rise unabated.
Greece has seen a rapid rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks which forced it to impose a nationwide lockdown, its second this year. Its northern regions, including the city of Thessaloniki, have been hit the most.
Visitors entering from land borders are already required to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test conducted at least 72 hours prior travel. Upon arrival, they will be re-tested by Greek authorities.
The latest measures will come into effect on Friday morning at 0400 GMT, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said, urging residents to also implement restrictions on movement.
“We understand there is fatigue. If we relax now, we’ll pay for it,” Petsas told reporters, adding that the country was faced with “war conditions”.
Greece has reported 82,034 infections and 1,288 deaths in total since the pandemic broke out. On Wednesday, it registered 3,209 new cases, 905 of them in the wider Thessaloniki region.
Asked about media reports on whether the government was considering transferring patients from northern Greece to Athens in trains, Petsas did not rule it out: “It could happen if needed, as long as we win the battle against the virus”.
(Reporting by Renee Maltezou and Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)