Covid-19: Greece quarantines all passengers from Qatar flight | World news

Greece has been pressured to confront the dangers of restarting worldwide tourism after authorities introduced that 12 out of 91 passengers onboard a Qatar Airways flight to Athens had examined constructive for coronavirus.

The civil safety ministry responded by suspending air hyperlinks to and from the Arab state till 15 June. All 91 travellers on the flight have been instantly positioned in quarantine. 

“We knew there can be such instances. We’ve seen what can occur this summer time,” mentioned Prof Nikolaos Sipsas, an professional in infectious ailments. He informed ANT1 TV that the incident highlighted the diploma to which opening as much as tourism was a calculated threat. 

“The most secure [thing] can be to not divulge heart’s contents to tourism however that might imply enormous financial destruction,” mentioned Sipsas, who sits on the specialist committee advising the Greek authorities on administration of the pandemic. “The very first thing we have now to do is divide nations of origin into protected and unsafe [categories]. That creates sure diplomatic stress, however for us the primary precedence is public well being.” 

The passengers who examined constructive may have stay remoted in a government-designated resort for 14 days. A minimum of two have been reported to be members of Australia’s massive ethnic Greek neighborhood, lots of whom historically return to Greece through the summer time months.

Tourists at the Acropolis.

Greece’s economic system is reliant on tourism. Photograph: Byron Smith/Getty Pictures

Non-infected passengers will probably be stored in quarantine for seven days, after which they’ll bear a second Covid-19 take a look at, in response to well being protocols. If then discovered detrimental they are going to be launched from quarantine. 

Greece mentioned on Monday it could cowl the prices of accommodating international guests who examined constructive for the virus. Final week Cyprus, whose economic system can also be reliant on tourism, introduced related plans. “Our intention is to make sure the utmost security for residents and guests,” mentioned Stelios Petsas, a authorities spokesman.

Greece has managed to maintain a low copy or “R” charge of infections since starting to reverse lockdown restrictions on four Might. Strict enforcement of measures early on has resulted in Greece recording fewer than three,000 instances and a loss of life toll of 179, one of many lowest in Europe

However the pandemic has wrought havoc on the eurozone’s most fragile economic system simply because it was beginning to present indicators of restoration after nearly a decade mired in disaster. 

Athens’ centre-right administration has declared that each one worldwide flights can resume from 15 June. Saying its plans to “welcome the world” on the weekend, the Greek international ministry mentioned travellers would till the top of the month need to bear necessary Covid-19 assessments upon arrival and a seven- or 14-day interval of quarantine relying on the consequence. 

When worldwide routes are allowed to different locations apart from Athens and Thessaloniki from 1 July, guidelines will probably be relaxed with solely spot assessments being carried out.

However the Qatar Airways flight has illuminated the dangers concerned within the plan. “It’s very clear there’s going to be a hazard with vacationers,” mentioned Alkiviadis Vatopoulos, a professor of public well being, emphasising how crucial it was for Greek authorities to have an satisfactory testing system in place. 

This text was amended on four June 2020 to appropriate the corporate title of Qatar Airways.

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