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COVID-19 is knocking at our doors, Zakynthos.

Like so many countries around the world we are finding ourselves having to deal with the virus. The spread of Coronavirus (Covid 19) continues in many countries around the world, with the number of cases increasing steadily and most of the dead being recorded in China. Italy however, is the most affected European country, and the first outbreaks have occurred in Greece as well.

Greece’s first case.

A 38-year-old businesswoman from Thessaloniki was the first case of the new Coronavirus in Greece. The trip to Milan, the first symptoms and the goal of scientists took hold.

Although the lady was in good health she and those who had came in contact with her were put in “self isolation”. Today, the good news is that they have recovered from the virus.

First cases in Zakynthos.

photo source:- Ημέρα τση Ζάκυνθος

The 9th case in Greece became known and it was here that our Island became on alert. The ninth carrier of the virus was part of a group that had recently returned from the Holy Lands, in Israel.

Five members of that particular group of people were from our Island. Upon returning from the Holy Lands, three of these people arrived on our Island on Friday 28th February, while the other two arrived on Sunday 1st of March. At that stage they had no reason to think they may have been infected with the virus. Israel at that stage, was considered a safe travel destination.

On Wednesday 4th March, they were informed by the group’s tour manager about one of their travel companions who tested positive for the virus, and they were immediately isolated in their homes. Since then the only time they came out of their homes was to go to the hospital to undergo the necessary examinations. The tests did prove positive for four people and the fifth person at the time was negative.

From the very first moment they were suspected to be carriers of the virus, their businesses were also closed and there were isolated from everyone.

After being tested positive for the virus, the four people stayed, and remained, at home following the instructions of The National Health Department. All four are in good health to this day and have been cleared of the virus and no longer contagious.

During this period, public protection measures were taken by our authorities, just in case. We were asked to close our schools, public and private. Those who may have come into contact with the four people were told to remain in “self isolation” for at least 14 days as a precautionary measure. As we see with this measure now, that was the correct thing to do as we have not had any further confirmed cases up until now of any other carriers.

First Deaths in Greece.

As for mainland Greece the spread of the virus continued at a slow rate, therefore other measures were and are being taken. The total of cases now stands at 190 with three deaths, one of those was a man from Zakynthos.

A man who was a relative of some that traveled with those who went to Israel. He himself had been put in “Self Isolation”  along with other famlily members from the group from the very first day of arriving on our Island.

On Thursday 11th March the 67 year old man who had symptoms of the virus was admitted to the hospital. He had visited Rio Hospital in Patra a few days earlier and felt unwell on Thursday. Immediately he contacted a private doctor who recommended him to go to Zakynthos Hospital for further examinations.

In fact, this was done at the hospital gate according to protocol, after being informed of his symptoms, he was taken to a special isolation unit, the same night (Thursday 12/03).

A few hours after his admission, a sample was taken to be sent to the Pasteur Institute. The results came out on Friday and were found to be positive for coronavirus.

Strict measures.

The news of the virus not spreading further than the 5 confirmed cases our Island had to deal with, comes as great comfort to our citizens. However, our Government has taken strict measures to stop its potential spread throughout Greece and that still includes Zakynthos.

At the moment we are following a unanimous recommendation from the Ministry of Health’s Committee of Experts. It was decided to suspend operation for 14 days starting today, on Saturday 14th March, as follows:

  • Shopping malls, discount village malls
  • Cafes, cafés, bars and catering services with the exception of delivery and take-away services
  • Entertainment centers
  • Cinemas, theaters, theaters
  • Libraries
  • Museums, archaeological and historical sites
  • Gambling agencies, casinos, gambling clubs with the exception of street vendors and online gambling
  • Sports Facilities, Sports Clubs, Cultural Clubs and Unions (except for individual sports open spaces as specified in the JMD)
    Theme parks (amusement parks etc) / public recreational spaces are excluded.
  • Barbers, hairdressers, beauty salons, beauty salons, tattoo / tattoo and skin / body care centers

* Businesses retain the ability to perform administrative or other tasks behind closed doors while respecting all hygiene rules.

THOSE ALLOWED OPEN.

Retailing with the exception of the above on the closed list
Retailing of foods (eg supermarket)

  • Open air markets
  • Bakeries and pastry shops without tables
  • Pharmacies (only serving 2 people at a time whilst others wait outside.)
  • Private health services
  • Cafes as far as distributing products and for takeaway only
  • Hotels (strictly for the convenience of tourist meals must be delivered or take a way for from the in-house bar or restaurant)
  • Banks (with specific instructions for up to 5 people in each branch / counter with protective measures, the possibility of extending working hours and paying pensions for more days / functions eg loans in the afternoon and recommendation for online transactions)
  • Call centers with specific instructions for proper distance and employee hygiene measures.

Measures hopefully will slow down the rate of spread.

We must remind you that these measures are in accordance to W.H.O. (The World Health Organisation) and we have seen other countries take this stance. The idea is to stop the spread. As far as our scientists are reporting, this particular virus is unknown and therefore they are trying to slow down the spread.  It is a new virus and people do not have antibodies and unfortunately this virus spreads at a very rapid rate compared to other viruses we have seen. Some nations with such a huge influx of severe cases in a period of time will not be able to cope, hence the measures. What we are trying to do now is slow the spread of the virus. The virus will not go away but at least we will have a better opportunity to handle severe situations when needed.

Travelling in and out of Greece.

photo source:- Ημέρα τση Ζάκυνθος

In regards to travelling, at the moment you can come in freely into all ports of entry in Greece. We are not on complete lock down like Italy. However, what our Government asks is that countries that have been affected, and those who have travelled from that country if it is a level 2, arriving in ours, they ask that you put yourself in isolation for a 14 day period. If you have come from a country that is level 3 then our authorities will do the necessary checks keeping you in quarantine for 14 days under surveillance of our National Health Department. This is necessary to ensure that all residents of Greece are fully protected from the spreading virus.

To check what countries are on what alert levels please click on the link provided as these may change from day to day week to week.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/

For anyone wanting to travel to Greece you can, even if you are from a level 3 country. In the later case you would need permission from the country you are departing from first, for example work commitments or that you live here. As for holidays, the country that is on level 3 alert will not let you leave.

As measures are changing continually we would advise that you make yourself aware of those changes. You can do so by checking on the link we have provided above.

As for Zakynthos, we are keeping to our strict measures and are hopeful that within the next two weeks these measures will have paid off, not only for our Island but for the whole of Greece. The virus will not go away but for now as it is in its peak of spreading, we want to make sure that the spread will slow down drastically. Our motto for now is “Stay Home” and that’s exactly what we are doing.

To get the facts on what Coronavirus (Covid 19) is, how it’s spread and how to protect yourself/prevent the spread, please see our post below:

CORONAVIRUS: GET THE FACTS

 

 

About Louise Inzk

Louise is Australian born and has been a Greek citizen since 1991. She has deep cultural ties with the island, often writing about Zakynthian Traditions and Culture. She is also an active member of the Volunteer Group of Zakynthos, Giostra Di Zante and is a member of the women's choir "Rodambelos". Her love of the island and all it offers saw her joining the Zakynthos (Zante) Informer admin team in 2014.

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3 comments

  1. Hi, we are regular visitors to Zakynthos and first visited the island 1988. In the last 15 years we have holidayed 2 months a year in Kalamakl. My wife and I have flights booked for 2 trips in 2020.

    We are in our 80’s and my wife has heath problems. hence we are concerned. Our first trip is planned for 20th May.

    Wewould very much appreciate you observations and advice.

    • Chrissie Parker

      The only advice we can give is speak to your travel adviser and follow the strict guidance given by the Greek Government and your own county’s Government

  2. We are with Zakynthos , we love the most beutiful Island on the Worlld❤🌍from Serbia “Stay home Zante”✌
    We 6 year for summer holiday always back only Zante✊

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