Tags: Coronavirus | Greece | Kyriakos Mitsotakis | Sotiris Tsiodras | healthcare | icu

Greece Beat COVID-19 'Because We Acted Very Quickly,' Says Prime Minister

mitsotakis in a black suit and blue tie speaking next to a greek flag
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)

By Thursday, 28 May 2020 09:27 AM Current | Bio | Archive

With only 2,892 cases of COVID-19, 1,374 recoveries and 173 deaths, Greece is increasingly looked to worldwide as a model for handling the virus crisis.

As the government in Athens now prepares to end its lockdown, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis spelled out just how Greece faced the virus and got to its present periphery of reopening the economy — among the most promising of any European nation.

“We are proud to have used this crisis to change our image,” Mitsotakis said during a virtual meeting sponsored by the Brookings Institute. He was referring to the 10 years in which Greece was wracked by debt and near-financial collapse.

Mitsotakis credited his government’s decision to recognize a lockdown as “inevitable” and make the decision to close public events “early rather than late” as key to its eventual triumph over the virus.

Sometimes it hurt, he conceded, pointing to the cancellation of the popular annual carnival celebration in Patras, Greece’s third largest city.

“And we communicated what we were doing very clearly,” said Mitsotakis. He freely admitted that he deferred to the nation’s chief epidemiologist Dr. Sotiris Tsiodras, who went on television every day at 6 p.m. to explain why people should remain home and follow the rules of social distancing.

“I didn’t know [Tsiodras] at first, except I knew he went to Harvard" for postgraduate studies in infectious diseases, said the prime minister, himself a graduate of Harvard Business School.

Tsiodras’ televised explanations were, in Mitsotakis’ words, “a collective educating experience. … Civil liberties were never part of the debate and there was never any real debate about if we did the right thing.” In Greece, masks are mandatory in the food sector and in public transportation.

In a nation in which skepticism about rules and whether to obey them is common, Mitsotakis proudly observed that “80% [of people] thought the restrictions were the right thing.”

He also said that Greece moved early to protect its national health system. It doubled the number of intensive care unit beds and moved to protect nursing homes.

“There was not a single fatality there,” the prime minister said.

In part, Mitsotakis believes his government was successful in grappling with the crisis because it had a strong mandate in the election last year and his conservative New Democracy party has a solid majority in the nation’s parliament. As a result, he noted, “we would implement policy one day after making a decision.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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With only 2,892 cases of COVID-19, 1,374 recoveries and 173 deaths, Greece is increasingly looked to worldwide as a model for handling the virus crisis. As the government in Athens now prepares to end its lockdown, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis spelled out just how...
Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Sotiris Tsiodras, healthcare, icu
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2020-27-28
Thursday, 28 May 2020 09:27 AM
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