Greece’s first female President-elect cancels her handover ceremony over virus concerns

Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou

Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou

Greece’s first female President elect Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou, who will succeed Prokopios Pavlopoulos as president of the Hellenic Republic, on Monday announced the cancellation of the traditional ceremony for congratulations on the assumption of her duties, scheduled for Saturday 14 March.

Sakellaropoulou said that the decision was taken "with a sense of the need for a collective effort and responsibility to address the coronavirus epidemic."

Although the coronavirus epidemic has not hit Greece like neighbouring Italy, the government has ordered the closure of schools, gatherings of over 1,000 people and the Athens half-marathon were cancelled, and other similar measures as the number of cases has risen to 84.

Of the current 84 cases, 81 are Greek nationals and the rest foreign visitors, they said. Of the total, 56 are part of the group that was infected during a trip to the Holy Land: 47 went on the tour and 9 were people they came in contact with.
Of the total 84, 57 are under home restrictions and 27 are hospitalised. One of the 27 has a serious case of pneumonia and is at the hospital of Rio.

According to Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias and infectious diseases Professor Sotiris Tsiodras more cases are expected in the following weeks, including people not related to known cases. Of the total 84, 4 fall under that category, he said, meaning that the source of their infection is unknown.

Kikilias said it was everyone's duty to protect vulnerable groups and to follow directions issued by the government and local authorities. Members of vulnerable groups should restrict their movements and stay home, he said. The next two months are critical, the minister stressed, and called on people to act responsibly.

Speaking about vulnerable groups, government consultant Professor Tsiodras said that the vulnerable group included people over 70 years old with chronic cardiopulmonary issues, people with diabetes, and people with chronic immunosuppressant cases. He also reiterated that gatherings of over 50 people, such as municipal council meetings, should take particular care to observe hygiene measures.