Greek holiday industry hit by Qatar Airlines flight which had 12 passengers who tested positive for COVID-19

Greece has been forced to decide from which countries it will allow holidaymakers to arrive from. The decision to create a shortlist of acceptable countries from where it would allow flights to arrive has been made more prescient after a Qatar Airways flight with 91 passengers on board arrived, after which 12 of the passengers tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

All 91 passengers have now been forced into isolation with the infected passengers being held for 14 days, while the civil protection ministry has suspended all flights from the Arab state until June 15. The remaining passengers will be tested in seven days’ time and providing they do not test positive for the coronavirus; they will be released from forced isolation. 

“We knew there would be such cases. We’ve seen what can happen this summer,” said Prof Nikolaos Sipsas, an expert in infectious diseases. He told ANT1 TV that the incident highlighted the degree to which opening up to tourism was a calculated risk. “The safest [thing] would be not to open up to tourism but that would mean huge economic destruction,” said Sipsas, who sits on the specialist committee advising the Greek government on management of the pandemic. “The first thing we have to do is divide countries of origin into safe and unsafe [categories]. That creates certain diplomatic pressure, but for us the first priority is public health.”

Strict and early enforcement of pandemic measures has resulted in Greece recording fewer than 3,000 cases and a death toll of 179, which is one of the lowest in Europe. However, the pandemic has wrought havoc on Greece’s fragile economy just as it was starting to show signs of recovery after almost ten years of financial crises.

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