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Sunday May 22, 2022

Greece aims to 'coexist' with COVID: health minister

"After two years of pandemic, we are in a different management phase... the phase of coexisting with the virus," says minister

By AFP
April 20, 2022
— AFP/file
— AFP/file  

ATHENS: Greece aims to "coexist" with COVID-19, its health minister said Wednesday as the country prepared to further relax restrictions to boost its key tourism industry.

"After two years of pandemic, we are in a different management phase... the phase of coexisting with the virus," Health Minister Thanos Plevris told a news conference.

New cases and intensive care hospitalisations were falling and 85% of adult Greeks are vaccinated, the minister said.

Greece, whose economy depends on tourism for around a quarter of national income, in February scrapped mandatory screening tests for travellers who hold a European vaccination certificate.

And vaccine passes will no longer be required in restaurants, bars and shops from May 1, while mandatory masks indoors will be scrapped from June 1.

The government has said the measures will be adjusted depending on the course of the pandemic.

Plevris on Wednesday rejected the so-called "zero-COVID" model embraced by China, which has seen the city of Shanghai confining most of its 25 million people.

"We don't believe in the logic of zero-COVID," the minister said, calling it a "failure" against the highly contagious Omicron variant.

"Tough restriction measures made sense early in the pandemic, they no longer do now," Plevris said.

Over 28,000 people in Greece have died from causes attributed to the virus, with over 3.2 million cases recorded so far.

Another 46 deaths were announced Tuesday.