Greece reports 21 new coronavirus cases in returning tour group
ATHENS, March 5, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Greek health officials on Thursday
reported 21 new coronavirus infections among a group that had recently
travelled to Israel and Egypt by bus, raising the country’s total to 31.
“It was a closed group of people who were on a bus for several days,” Sotiris
Tsiodras of the national public health organisation (EODY) told a news
conference, adding that they had returned to Greece on February 27.
The travellers, who included a priest, had been on a Holy Land trip to Israel
and Egypt according to EODY.
“We were there from February 19… from the time we returned we had a slight
cough and fever,” the priest told reporters on Wednesday as he arrived at a
hospital for tests.
“It feels like a minor cold,” he said.
Two among the group — an elderly man and his wife — had already tested
positive, becoming Greece’s ninth and 10th cases.
The 66-year-old man has acute pneumonia and is in stable condition, EODY said
in an earlier statement.
Another 21 among the group were confirmed on Thursday, Tsiodras said.
Officials last night announced a two-day school shutdown and a cancellation
of public events in the areas in western Greece where the group had come
The two-day shutdown included “a suspension of all mass gatherings” at
theatres, cinemas, museums and sports events in the Peloponnese regions of
Achaia and Elis and the island of Zakynthos through to Friday.
Ancient Olympia, where the flame for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is scheduled to
be lit on March 12, is in Elis.
The Greek Olympic Committee this week said it was drastically scaling back
accreditations “to those absolutely necessary”, limiting festivities and
cancelling all event dinners and galas.
But in an updated statement, the Greek Olympic committee said the flame
ceremony and torch relay through Greece would “proceed as planned”.
Most of the patients from the Holy Land trip are in good health and are being
monitored at home, Tsiodras said.
Three of the cases, including the 66-year-old man and his wife, are at a
hospital at the port town of Rio, near the city of Patras.
A number of doctors and staff at Rio hospital and another hospital in
Amaliada have been sent home for two weeks as a precaution after coming into
contact with the 66-year-old.
The university of Crete also announced a two-day shutdown to Monday of its
faculty in Rethymno after a student linked to the Peloponnese group developed
The coronavirus outbreak has infected more than 95,000 people worldwide and
killed over 3,200.