World News

Greece extends nationwide coronavirus lockdown by a week

Demonstrators wearing protective masks take part in a protest during a 24-hour general strike of Greek public sector workers, demanding hiring of doctors and other medical staff to fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Athens, Greece, November 26, 2020. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece will extend its nationwide lockdown by a week until Dec. 7 as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the country, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

An increase in infections since October has forced the government to impose Greece’s second national shutdown since the pandemic began.

The country has registered a total of 97,288 COVID-19 cases and 1,902 deaths during the pandemic, with northern Greece hardest hit and hospitals operating at almost full capacity.

Despite “early indications” that the number of daily cases is decreasing, Greece will only be able to plan a return to normality when the pressure on its health system start to ease, said the government spokesman, Stelios Petsas.

“For the time being, we are extending the current restrictions for the protection from coronavirus until Monday, Dec 7, at 6 am (0400 GMT),” he said during a televised briefing.

Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by David Goodman and Pravin Char