Greece shuts down all schools as deaths cross 1,000

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Greece on Saturday announced the closure of primary schools, kindergartens and daycare centres as coronavirus deaths crossed a thousand.

Authorities reported 2,835 new cases, taking the total to 72,510, and 38 new deaths, raising the toll to 1,035.

Since late October, the daily number of deaths in this country of nearly 11 million has quadrupled while the number of infections has doubled to around 3,000.

Out of the 533 total COVID-19 intensive care unit beds nationwide, 366 were occupied, authorities said Saturday.

The most hard-hit area is Thessaloniki in the north, the second largest city in Greece.

Earlier on Saturday, the government announced the closure of primary schools until the end of this month.

"Closing was the last thing we wanted to do. This is a measure of how serious the situation is," Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said.

Secondary schools have already closed and all lessons have taken place remotely since Monday.

Most European countries have kept schools open during the second waves of cases that has hit the continent since September, unlike in March and April when they were shuttered during the first lockdowns.

The World Health Organization recommends that schools only be shut as a last resort.

"The coming weeks will be extremely critical", Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Thursday.

The current restrictions started on November 7 and will last until November 30, although experts suggest it might be extended.

Since Friday night a curfew is in place from 9 pm to 5am all over Greece.

© 2020 AFP

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