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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-07-31

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM : Vaccination of entire population in Greece
  • [02] PASOK on gov't new flu measures
  • [03] One arrest following failed supermarket robbery in Glyfada
  • [04] Brown bear and cub find refuge in Kastoria village

  • [01] PM : Vaccination of entire population in Greece

    The entire population in Greece will be inoculated at state expense, including illegal immigrants, the government announced on Friday after a meeting of the inter-ministerial committee on the new flu virus A/H1N1 chaired by prime minister Costas Karamanlis.

    Health minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros made the announcement in statements to the press after the meeting.

    Avramopoulos announced that, on the prime minister's orders, the entire population in the country, in other words all the citizens and residents, including those who are illegally in Greece, will be vaccinated, with the entire expense carried by the state. He noted that the number of vaccines to be procured by Greece will be approximately 24 million.

    He also said that Greece will be among the first countries to procure the vaccine, adding that vaccination will begin immediately upon formal approval by the EU.

    The minister explained that vaccination cannot be made obligatory by law, and therefore applications for inoculation will need to be filled out. He added that population groups would be prioritized for vaccination, beginning with medical and nursing staff.

    During the meeting, Avramopoulos presented to the prime minister and the committee members the updated National Plan on the new flu, stressing that Greece had acted immediately as soon as the global pandemic broke out.

    Noting that there was uncertainty among scientists over the development of the breakout, Avramopoulos said that according to the worst case scenario approximately 30-40 percent of the world population may contract the virus.

    He pointed out that it is the State's duty to be prepared for every eventuality, but stressed that there was no cause for alarm or panic.

    "Our way of life must not change," he said, before outlining the main aspects of the National Plan, which is updated regularly in accordance with the development of the global pandemic, and stressed that the government will not conceal information or figures.

    "The cultivation of panic and irresponsible politicking observed a short while ago on the new flu undermines the country's health security and productive process," Avramopoulos warned, adding that, even at this time, it was positive that the main opposition party (PASOK) was now acting in a spirit of understanding and cooperation.

    He also charged that an effort at political exploitation of the issue had been made, stressing that the government, however, had not been carried away into such a clash, and added that the National Plan will also be submitted to the political and state leadership of the country and, in the event that a political party wanted further information and clarifications, they would receive them.

    Avramopoulos further announced that there will be hirings of additional doctors and nursing staff, while 100 more intensive care units (ICUs) will be set up.

    Replying to relevant questions, Avramopoulos said that there are currently four serious cases of the new flu in Greece, and noted that 95 percent of all the cases thus far have recovered completely.

    "The government and state machine are on alert on a 24-hour basis," he stressed.

    As for concerns voiced regarding schools, which are due to reopen for the new academic year in mid-September, Avramopoulos said that the health ministry was in close cooperation with the education ministry, and the situation was being constantly assessed, adding that this matter will be decided based on the development of the problem.

    The minister further noted the four-digit telephone hotline "1135" that has been set up to provide information to the public.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis

    [02] PASOK on gov't new flu measures

    Main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou, speaking after the Inter-Ministerial Committee meeting on the flu issue and the statements made afterwards by Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, underlined that "everything will depend on the mobilization of the health sector mechanism and the operational coordination of the entire state mechanism".

    Papaconstantinou stressed that from the onset PASOK had pointed out the need to provide responsible information to the public and suggested that a specific operational action plan be processed and publicized, featuring guidelines for all members of the health system.

    "The Inter-Ministerial Committee meeting on the novel influenza and the subsequent statements made by the health minister clearly showed that Greece will have to make an enormous effort to ensure that the consequences of an anticipated pandemic will be the smallest possible," Papaconstantinou stated.

    The PASOK spokesman also stated that there are still a number of questions that need answers. He asked the government if it has prepared an updated national action plan based on the newest facts pertaining to the novel influenza and if so to submit it in Parliament. Moreover, he referred to the number of vaccines that will be needed, the action plan for the vaccination of the population and the seasonal flu vaccine reserves available.

    [03] One arrest following failed supermarket robbery in Glyfada

    One of the two armed men involved in the bloody robbery attempt in a "Sklavenitis" supermarket in the coastal suburb of Glyfada in Athens on Friday morning was arrested a few hours later in the district of Ilioupoli following a "Hollywood style" police chase and exchange of gunfire.

    Shortly after the robbery, which took place at 8:00 am, Z-Force officers (Greek Police motorcycle unit), spotted two men on a stolen motorcycle and attempted to run an identity check. The suspects tried to flee and the one riding on the passenger seat opened fire once against the pursuing officers, who responded and managed to arrest one of them while the other one fled on the motorcycle and is still wanted.

    The suspect arrested is a 30-year-old Albanian, who has admitted his participation in the robbery attempt and has been identified by the supermarket employees.

    The two gunmen entered a "Sklavenitis" supermarket at opening time and attempted to take money from a cash register, but the woman cashier refused to hand it over. A private security guard intervened, and was shot in the leg by one of the two robbers, who immediately fled the scene without any money, heading in the direction of Ilioupoli where they were later spotted.

    [04] Brown bear and cub find refuge in Kastoria village

    A frequent sight at the main square of the village of Kleisora, in Kastoria, but also the village soccer field, is a mother bear and her cub, who have found shelter in the mountainous village in recent months.

    According to Vasso Petridou of the Arcturos wildlife and environment conservation group, the bear and her cub went into hibernation in a nearby area and since spring frequently visit a landfill near the village foraging for food.

    "The locals, in fact, would wave to the bear when they saw her from afar at the landfill, but they panicked when it recently strolled through the village square," Petridou told ANA-MPA.

    Prompted by frequent visits by the bear to populated areas in the wider region of Western Macedonia, Arcturos has planned a public awareness event for Sunday in Kleisoura, where special collaborators of the group will brief locals on the biological and ecological aspects of the brown bear (Ursus arctos) in Greece, the hazards that threaten this endangered species, ways to prevent damage, and practical ways for the peaceful coexistence of man and bear.

    A similar public information and awareness event has been scheduled for August 16 in the community of Krystallopighi in Florina prefecture. The brown bear is a European Protected Species EPS), given protection throughout the European Union.

    Caption:ANA-MPA file photo

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