The West Nile virus has claimed 16 lives this week in Greece, with the Athens Medical Association (ISA) urging authorities to draft an emergency action plan in order to deal with what is best described as a growing threat to public health.

With over 130 reported cases, the ISA has called upon the Health Ministry and the Attica Regional Authority to implement a plan to deal with the virus’s spread, which also is having a financial cost to the country, as it is impacting the tourism industry.

The country has been left “defenceless”, said the ISA, and that it is the duty of the national authorities to raise public awareness and promote individual protection measures.

ISA chairman Giorgos Patoulis has blamed authorities for being too slow at tackling the problem. “Unfortunately, once again, the competent authorities have not risen to the occasion and are now being urged to take belated measures to address the consequences of their inability to draft a credible national public health policy,” he said.

Greece has “paid the price of this incompetence with the loss of human lives.” he added.