More restrictions expected as Greek PM to address nation over COVID-19 surge

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ATHENS, Feb 9 (Reuters) – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will make a televised address to the nation on Tuesday evening after a rapid rise in coronavirus cases, his office said, after the health minister proposed a lockdown for the capital.

Mitsotakis chaired an emergency meeting with ministers and health experts to evaluate the situation earlier on Tuesday.

Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias has proposed a full lockdown in Athens, where half of the country’s population of 11 million lives and where most cases have been recorded.

Authorities registered 1,526 infections on Tuesday, more than double the number recorded a day earlier – half of them in the wider Athens area.

The country has registered 6,017 COVID-related deaths since the coronavirus was first detected in the country.

Kikilias said a new lockdown could ease pressure on hospitals.

“For the past 11 months, we’ve been fighting an uneven battle with the coronavirus and made it. Now, we are fighting against time, until we get 60-70% of the population vaccinated,” Kikilias told Open TV.

Mitsotakis will address the nation at 1730 GMT.

A full lockdown in Athens would mean that non-essential shops and schools will close again, straining households and the retail sector further. Restaurants and cafes are only offering delivery services and their owners plan a protest on Wednesday. (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou and Renee Maltezou; Editing by Alison Williams)

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