ATHENS 

Greece will impose a total ban on public movement in the Attica region from Wednesday till Feb. 28, the prime minister said in a televised address to the nation. 

To stem further spread of the novel coronavirus, Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that from this coming Thursday all retail stores, schools, hair salons, and churches will shut down. 

Schools will return to distance learning except for special education.

Only supermarkets, food stores, and pharmacies will remain open.

Restaurants and cafes will just offer delivery services.

The sudden rise in hospital admissions, and the mutated form of the virus that appears to be spreading at much higher rates, are what prompted the government to take this step, Mitsotakis said.

He pointed out that the government is acting proactively warning that the danger has reappeared.

“Experience from the first wave of the pandemic, as well as from the lockdown after the Christmas holidays, shows that the faster the restrictions are applied, the faster they are lifted,” he noted.

The prime minister also said that on Wednesday further details of the ban will be announced by the government.

This is the second time the Attica region will be in a full lockdown since the pandemic first appeared in the country last year.

The announcement came after health authorities reported an alarming jump in the number of cases on Tuesday with 1,526 new infections, including 750 of them recorded in Attica — the most populated area in the country.

All cases in Greece have so far totaled 166,067, while 277 individuals are currently intubated.

Health authorities also reported 20 new deaths, bringing coronavirus fatalities to 6,017 in total.

Earlier this week, an analysis conducted by Nikolaos Thomaidis, an analytical chemistry expert at the University of Athens, said the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in raw sewage from the Attica region rose to 205% between Jan. 29 and Feb. 5, which indicates that the country is facing a fresh surge in the pandemic.

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