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Greece begins shutdown as virus spreads

Agence France-Presse

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The flame for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is scheduled to be lit on 12 March in ancient Olympia and following a torch relay on Greek soil, will be handed to Tokyo organizers on 19 March at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. (AFP)

Greece has announced a broad shutdown of public areas and travel restrictions, to be activated in case of a coronavirus outbreak.

The measures, formalized in a decree late on Tuesday, include temporary travel bans to and from countries with a large number of infections.

The decree also permits the requisitioning of beds in hotels and private clinics.

It also foresees the temporary closure of “indoor public gathering areas” such as schools, places of worship, cinemas, theaters, sports halls and businesses.

“We are ready to do whatever is necessary to protect public health,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters.

The country has so far registered no confirmed cases of the virus.

Greece’s health ministry has earmarked 13 hospitals nationwide equipped to handle virus cases.

A health ministry spokesman earlier this week noted that owing to the virus’ long gestation period, health checks at ports and airports had minor chances of success.

On Monday, the Greek Olympic Committee said it had discussed alternative plans for the Olympic Flame lighting ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Games in case of a virus outbreak.

The flame for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is scheduled to be lit on 12 March in ancient Olympia and, following a torch relay on Greek soil, will be handed to the Tokyo organisers at a ceremony on 19 March at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.

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