Greece will begin offering kits that allow people to self-test for coronavirus, one free per week, as part of the national campaign to curb the spread of the disease.
Priority will initially go to teachers and students between the ages of 16 and 18, as authorities have announced plans to reopen secondary schools for the last three levels starting April 12. Students and teachers will have to use the tests twice a week as a condition to enter the campuses.
Greece has been under a regime of collective confinement since the beginning of November and schools have been closed most of the time. Only the special education ones have been open all the time.
Coronavirus cases have been on the rise in Greece despite restrictions and the closure of bars, restaurants and retail stores. Hospitals are operating at full capacity and intensive care units are fully occupied. The country of 11 million people announced a record of daily infections on Tuesday, with 4,309. In total, since the beginning of the pandemic, Greece has suffered 8,607 deaths due to the disease.
Despite this, retail stores in most parts of the country reopened on Monday, albeit by appointment only. Cafes, restaurants and bars are still closed, although they are allowed to deliver or offer take out food and a curfew applies from 9 pm to 5 am Residents can leave their homes only for specific purposes and only after sending a message text advising the authorities. It is mandatory to wear a mask in any public place, closed or outdoors.
However, after five months of restrictions, many residents are breaking the rules and people are frequently seen crowding in front of cafes or bars, with their drinks in plastic cups.
Alternate Health Minister Vassilis Kontozamanis announced that the distribution of the free coronavirus self-diagnosis kits will begin on Thursday.
Associated Press journalist Derek Gatopoulos in Athens contributed to this report.
Elena Becatoros is at: https://twitter.com/ElenaBec