Greek Health Minister Thanos Plevris said that health experts were re-examining the possibility of bringing back mandatory face masks in view of an imminent wave of Covid-19 and potential new strains in the coming weeks.
Speaking to SKAI television, Plevris said the face mask “discussion would focus on making it compulsory and strong guidance”.
Mandatory mask wearing is likely to be reintroduced in other areas besides hospitals, on board ships and in mass transport, ie buses, trains, and the metro, as is the case now.
Plevris reiterated that strict restrictions were a thing of the past and that citizens now want “a new framework” of Covid guidance.
“To the absolute mildest degree, if we need to extend the use of the mask in certain areas, then we will consider it,” said Plevris, adding that other factors impacting the conditions in winter include the onset of the seasonal flu which combined with the coronavirus “requires a strategy, such as vaccination, in order to protect vulnerable groups”.
Additionally, Plevris said the country’s Covid-19 committee would be discussing protocols with the health and education ministries for the start of the new school year mid-September. Mild restrictions are set to apply for schools too, said Plevris confirming that relevant decisions would be announced by the end of the month.
Lastly, he called again on senior residents or those belonging to vulnerable groups to get vaccinated with the fourth dose.
Earlier this month, Plevris said strict Covid-19 measures in the fall would be unlikely and urged people to continue wearing face masks particularly in crowded areas and indoors.
Meanwhile, health experts are divided over whether “Centaurus”, the new Covid-19 variant considered to be highly infectious, would become dominant in the country with a number of doctors expecting cases to reach 45,000 a day in the coming weeks.
Greece’s National Public Health Organization (EODY) announced on Tuesday in its weekly bulletin that in the August 15-21 period, 55,769 new Covid infections had been recorded, 22 percent of which repeat infections, and 258 deaths.