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Expert calls for stricter lockdown in Greece as COVID-19 deaths set new daily record

 ATHENS -- Greek authorities should consider imposing a tougher lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, an expert said Friday, as the country reported a new daily record of 72 coronavirus deaths.


"The lockdown that was imposed two weeks ago does not seem to have affected the number of infections, the course of the epidemic, as we hoped, as we would like. We are at a crossroads and we would probably have to discuss the further toughening of measures," Alkiviadis Vatopoulos, professor of Microbiology at the University of West Attica, told Xinhua.


In addition to enforcing the established rules, such as limiting actions as much as possible and keeping social distance, "we should discuss how realistic it is to take additional measures of stricter restrictions of movement," said the expert, also a member of the committee advising the Greek government on pandemic management.


"We have reached a point where we should see the further toughening of measures," the government's public health adviser added.



 The expert's advice came as the National Public Health Organization reported 2,581 new infections and 72 more deaths on Friday, bringing the national caseload to 87,812 and the death toll to 1,419.


The healthcare system has also been under mounting pressure, with hospitals being full to overflowing and a high occupancy of beds in intensive care units for COVID-19 patients.


On Nov. 7, Greece entered its second lockdown, which is scheduled to end on Nov. 30. However, with a surge in cases over the past few days, the initial target of reopening on Dec. 1 now does not seem like "a realistic target," government spokesperson Stelios Petsas told national broadcaster ERT on Friday.


As the epidemiological load in Greece, particularly in the north, has not been reduced, the government decided to impose more restrictions on land borders in the region, Nikos Hardalias, deputy minister for Civil Protection and Crisis Management, told a regular press conference on Friday.


A border crossing between Greece and Albania was blocked from Friday, while other crossings between Greece and neighboring Balkan countries as well as Turkey were only available for Greek nationals and other European Union citizens.


Besides, all travelers should provide a negative COVID-19 test that was done not more than 72 hours before. 

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