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Coronavirus hits third migrant facility as Greece plans to ease lockdown

Reuters , Tuesday 21 Apr 2020
Athens
This picture taken on April 19, 2020 shows an empty street during the Orthodox Easter in Athens, as people stay home due to the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Photo: AFP)
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Dozens of migrants in a hostel south of Greece tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, hours after the government said it would open some public services on April 27 as part of a gradual easing of the nation's coronavirus lockdown.

Compared with countries, such as Italy, Spain, France and Britain, Greece's toll from the coronavirus is low, but concern is mounting over its migrant population.

The hostel has been quarantined since April 16, the third migrant facility in the country to be hit by the virus.

The 497 people who live and work there were tested after a pregnant woman tested positive for the new coronavirus last week, the migration minister said. Among the migrants, who are mainly from Africa, there are many children, officials said.

On Tuesday, test results showed that 150 people had been infected, although none had developed any symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Chardalias said.

"There is no reason for panic," Chardalias told reporters outside the facility. "The measures (we have taken) are adequate to contain the spread of the virus."

Greece, which adopted lockdown measures to try to slow the spread of the new coronavirus on March 23, has registered 2,245 infections since its first case surfaced in late February. The death toll is 116.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters earlier on Tuesday the cabinet was working on a transition plan to gradually ease the lockdown. He said that judicial services would start to resume on April 27, when the lockdown is scheduled to end.

"A gradual return to normality starts symbolically with the judicial services on April 27," he said in a televised briefing, adding land registries, county courts and courts of first instance would resume certain operations.

Petsas said that next week Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis would lay out Greece's transition plan, likely to begin by lifting restrictions for lower-risk groups of the population and business activities.

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