Greece reported its first death from a coronavirus infection on Thursday, a 66-year-old man who had returned from a religious pilgrimage to Israel and Egypt at the end of February.
The Greek Health Ministry said that the man had underlying health issues when he died from multi-organ failure at the University Hospital of Patras.
The retired professor had developed pneumonia-like symptoms as soon as he returned from his trip. Other participants from his trip have also been confirmed positive for the virus. They remain either in hospitals or in home confinement.
Greece’s health ministry confirmed 99 cases of coronavirus nationwide as of late Wednesday while the World Health Organization declared the virus “a global pandemic.”
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis delivered a national address on Wednesday regarding the virus and its effects throughout Greece.
His speech closed with a topic, he said, that has captured the public’s attention over the past several days — the Church of Greece’s official statement that coronavirus could not be transmitted via Holy Communion.
Mitsotakis told listeners that in recent days he felt the strong need to invoke his own faith for strength and help through the coronavirus crisis.
“As prime minister, however, I have a responsibility to listen to experts,” he said, adding that “What is applicable to public gatherings also applies to churches.”
Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias reiterated parts of Mitsotakis’ message via Twitter, sharing a clip of his own speech to local media.
“We will do whatever it takes to protect our people,” he wrote. “It is time, [for] each and every one of us Greeks who have humanity and a sense of honor, to become a wall of protection for those in danger.”
More than 4,600 people have died of coronavirus worldwide, with more than 125,000 confirmed cases in 114 countries, according to WHO.
Featured image: People with protective masks gesture at the AHEPA Hospital in Thessaloniki, Greece. (Photo / Agence France-Presse)
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