Greece locks down Muslim towns over coronavirus

26 Mar 2020 / 16:56 H.

ATHENS: Greek authorities have quarantined a cluster of Muslim towns in the country’s northeast after several cases and a death from the new coronavirus in the area.

The area in Xanthi prefecture was placed in lockdown on Thursday evening as nine people in the region overall have tested positive for the virus over the past six days, civil protection deputy minister Nikos Hardalias told reporters.

“All residents have been temporarily confined at home. No exceptions are allowed,“ Hardalias said.

The centre of the outbreak appears to be the small Pomak town of Ehinos, a community of about 2,500.

“Ehinos residents will be provided with food and medicine,“ Hardalias said.

One 72-year-old Ehinos man has died from the virus, local mayor Ridvan Deli Huseyin told Antenna television.

“It’s better to take some measures now than to cry about this later,“ said Huseyin, the mayor of the local administrative centre of Miki.

The Pomaks are a Muslim group of Slavic origin who live mainly in neighbouring Bulgaria.

They make up part of Greece’s roughly 110,000-strong Muslim minority in the country’s northeast bordering Turkey.

Many of them work as migrant industrial workers in other European countries.

According to Greek state television ERT, several hundred Pomak workers have recently returned from shipyards and construction work in Italy, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

There are 22 deaths and 821 officially announced infections from the coronavirus in Greece, which has a population of 11 million. - AFP

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