Greece’s tourist season has begun on a beam of light with health authorities announcing that all 250 tests conducted on passengers landing in Heraklion, the Cretan capital, on the first day of regional airports reopening to international travellers yesterday have come in negative.
Some 6,500 tests, based on information garnered through passenger locator forms that incoming visitors are obliged to fill 48 hours ahead of arrival, were conducted nationwide according to the Greek Daily, Protothema. The results will be released throughout the day.
In what is seen as a test run for the tourist season, Greece’s 18 regional airports received their first international flights on Wednesday with over 40 planes landing at Crete’s Heraklion and Chania airports.
Staff at the island’s university hospital conducted the tests.
In contrast to many other European countries, the tourist-dependent nation has managed to keep infection rates and Covid-19 fatalities low after enforcing lockdown measures early on.
It has now resorted to “smart testing” of incoming travellers, applying algorithmic software to the information downloaded on passenger forms to try and detect potential coronavirus carriers. On the basis of barcodes they receive after completing the form, visitors are told whether they have to be examined or not, with 24 hours of self-isolation required at the address stated on the form until the results come through.
Despite the precautionary measures, Athens’ tourism minister Harry Theoharis admits that opening the country is still a “calculated risk.”
Greece has recorded 3,432 confirmed coronavirus cases since February and 192 Covid-linked deaths.
UK to lift ban on non-essential travel to up to 90 countries
Overseas holidays and visits to up to 90 countries will be possible for Britons from Monday without the need to quarantine for 14 days on return.
The Foreign Office is expected to lift its ban on non-essential travel to nearly all EU countries, British territories such as Bermuda and Gibraltar, and Australia and New Zealand.
Popular holiday destination Turkey is also expected to be included in the list.
The announcement confirmed by government officials, and due on Friday, effectively puts an end to the air-bridge or travel corridor policy that has been pursued by the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, for several weeks.
This would have involved setting up reciprocal arrangements with a core of Mediterranean countries including France, Greece and Spain to not quarantine each other’s citizens.
Since 8 June nearly all passengers have been required to go into self-isolation for 14 days at a declared address when they arrive in the UK. People who fail to comply can be fined £1,000 in England.
All of the countries due to be included in the new travel list are likely to be on the government’s green list of low-risk nations for coronavirus, or from the amber list, which is medium risk.
Indonesia reports record daily jump, with 1,624 new coronavirus cases
Until recently, the majority of coronavirus cases that Dr Quinn Snyder, an emergency doctor at one of Arizona’s largest emergency departments, saw were older people. But since mid-May, when the state’s stay-at-home order was lifted, and particularly after the Memorial Day holiday, the demographic has shifted.
Snyder says he has seen an “explosion” in cases among 20-44 year-olds.
Some of those, he said, are coming in severely ill – requiring oxygen, intubation and ventilators. “We even had people in that age group die, unfortunately. So it’s very troubling and it’s very difficult to watch young people die from this disease. It’s horrible.”
As cases continue to soar at record levels across the US, which now has over 2.6m cases, there is growing alarm about a surge in younger people getting the virus. On Friday, vice-president Mike Pence said half of new cases in the US in recent weeks were adults under 35.
Speaking ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend, health experts in hotspot states – which include Arizona, Texas and Florida – warned numbers will continue to rise and that if young people do not take better precautions, hospitals will reach capacity and states could be left with no choice but to completely shut down.
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