On Wednesday, April 15, the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCCA) extended until May 15 the suspension of international flights to and from European states severely impacted by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The measure apples to Italy, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Germany. Flights to and from Germany from Athens International Airport (ATH) will be exempt from the ban, as will cargo, humanitarian, and repatriation flights. Additionally, an entry ban on non-European Union (EU) citizens into Greece has been extended until May 15, with some exceptions.
On Saturday, April 4, Greek authorities announced that emergency restrictions in place to prevent further spread of COVID-19 will be extended through Monday, April 27. As such, all residents are being requested to limit non-essential movement. Only individuals going to and from work, shopping for food or medicine, or visiting a doctor will be allowed out and must carry proper identification and documentation validating their reasons for movement. Furthermore, only permanent residents will be allowed to board the boats connecting the mainland to the various Greek islands. Those found in violation of the lockdown, or lacking the proper documentation, may be subject to fines.
The Migration Ministry announced on Sunday, April 5, that a second refugee camp in Malakasa (40 km north of Athens) has been placed under quarantine, for at least two weeks, just days after the same measures were introduced for the Ritsona camp (Central Greece region). The decision came after a 53-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19. Government officials also stated that a heightened security presence will be implemented around the camp to ensure the restrictions are observed.
To date, there have been 2170 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with 101 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
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 numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble 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.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.