BLOOMBERG: GREECE SHOWS HOW TO HANDLE THE CRISIS
Takis Pappas, a political scientist at the University of Helsinki, has compared the speed of the response in Greece, Italy and Spain. Athens closed down all non-essential shops only four days after its first Covid-19 death. In contrast, Italy and Spain did so after 18 and 30 days, respectively. (It’s worth noting it took more than two weeks for Spain to diagnose that first death as Covid-19-related. The country closed non-essential shops 12 days after that.) A ban on non-essential movement in Greece came only a week afterwards — faster than in either of the other two countries.
Those early actions reduced the pressure on the country’s precarious healthcare system. In mid-March, the Greek national health system (ESY) could only count on 605 intensive care units, of which only 557 were in operation due to staff shortages. Greece has a population of more than 10 million people. That’s a worse ratio than that of Spain, which started with 4,400 ICUs for a population of nearly 47 million and has been overwhelmed by coronavirus cases.
For years, much of Europe has looked down on Greece as an insolvable problem. For all its intrinsic frailties, in this pandemic, Athens can walk with its head held high.