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26 Feb 2020 | 08:00 AM UTC

Greece: Government confirms first COVID-19 case February 26

Ministry of Health confirms first COVID-19 case in the country on February 26; further spread of the virus expected over the near term

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GRC

Event

On Wednesday, February 26, the Ministry of Health confirmed the first coronavirus (COVID-19) case in the country. The patient, a 38-year-old Greek woman, had traveled to northern Italy and is currently being treated in Thessaloniki.

Air China had earlier announced the cancelation of all flights to Athens from Monday, February 17, through Wednesday, March 18. Greek authorities also implemented temperature screening for passengers arriving from China.

Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in more than 30 countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia. 

Advice

To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments

In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.