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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-08-11

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] 143 kilos of cannabis found in parked truck
  • [02] SYN reaction on new flu measures
  • [03] Vigilence on new virus
  • [04] ΚΚΕ on flu measures
  • [05] Tsipras tours Samos island

  • [01] 143 kilos of cannabis found in parked truck

    Port Authorities on Tuesday seized more than 140 kilos of cannabis found hidden in the back of a truck parked in the port of Corfu island port.

    A total of 143 kilos of cannabis was found packaged in 128 airtight packets in the back of the parked truck..

    In a separate incident in the Athens district of Haidari, Piraeus coast guard officers arrested two locals aged 25 and 34, together with three foreign nationals -- a Belgian, an Albanian and a Romanian -- who police believe, are involved in drug trafficking.

    [02] SYN reaction on new flu measures

    Coalition of the Radical Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) spokesman Panos Skourletis, referring to Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos' announcement of measures against the new flu earlier in the day, said on Tuesday that "of course the issue of the new flu must not become another field for petty politics and superficial statements".

    "What we must underline, however, are the current New Democracy and former PASOK governments' responsibilities in failing to establish a Primary Healthcare system that could act as a shield in facing the new flu. Of course, they had other priorities, such as to promote the private interests in the Health sector," Skourletis added.

    [03] Vigilence on new virus

    Health Minister Avramopoulos assured that the entire State mechanism was prepared and on constant alert regarding the new flu A/H1N1 outbreak, speaking to reporters on Tuesday after briefing Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    He added that all case scenarios were being examined, while he also stressed that "we will not allow our society to slip into a state of panic", noting that the government, under the prime minister's instructions, was operating in an organised and coordinated way.

    "The government is unceasingly monitoring the problem and immediately resolving any matters that arise," Avramopoulos added.

    The health minister formally announced that nurseries and kindergartens will open for the new school year as scheduled, with private pre-schools opening on August 17 and public pre-schools on September 1, while the final decision on primary and secondary schools will be taken following an overall assessment of the situation.

    Avramopoulos said that a total of 162,380 cases of the new flu have been recorded world-wide, among them 1,154 deaths, whereas in Greece 1,002 cases have been confirmed to date, of which 95 percent have recovered completely "and are back in their homes, in excellent health".

    There are two serious cases in intensive care at the present moment, the minister said, adding that the previous serious cases are well on the way to full recovery.

    Avramopoulos further said that the dispensation of antiviral medicines has been deregulated, while the primary healthcare network for the new flu was being expanded.

    As for the program for inoculation of the entire population in Greece decided by the government, including non-legal residents, Avrampoulos said that the priority will be the vulnerable (high-risk) population groups (i.e. childen, elderly, people with health problems), and on services that are crucial for the operation of the State, including Armed Forces and Security Corps personnel, local government hygiene services, the DEKO (public utilities and state organisations), and large private sector enterprises.

    The minister added that the prospect of new flu testing by certified private laboratories was also being mulled, while the vaccination operational plans were also in the process of completion, in collaboration with the Union of Prefectures of Greece (ENAE) and the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE).

    In Athens, for example, 27 vaccination centers and seven flu clinics were planned, he explained.

    The areas of action, the minister continued, include: mobilisation and training of human resources; monitoring of inoculation through the use of technology and software, while a record will be kept of those vaccinated; back-up for the prefectural and local governments; doubling of the four-digit '1135' telephone information hotline phone lines; and establishment of an extensive network of doctors for the inoculation process.

    Also, there will be an immediate addition of 50-60 more intensive care unit (ICU) beds, Avramopoulos said, adding that it went without saying that ICUs in private hospitals will also be used if necessary.

    Replying to press questions, Avramopoulos said that the exact number of inoculation centers would be announced soon, but noted indicatively that there would be some 140-150 such centers in the country's two largest prefectures, Attica and Thessaloniki. He added that the vaccination centers would be set up chiefly at schools, and would operate either on Friday afternoons or throughout the weekends.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos

    [04] ΚΚΕ on flu measures

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in a statement released on Tuesday commenting on the government's measures on the new flu outbreak in Greece, charged that "the government, instead of undertaking immediate measures to fill the immense voids in the state health system in staff and infrastructures for facing the pandemic, is taking measures that bear risks for the people's health".

    "It is conceding Primary Healthcare to private concerns, and transferring Health System authorities to local government," the KKE said, adding that the measures allowing the dispensation of antiviral medicines by private doctors and diagnosis of the new flu to private laboratories, as well as the relegation of the vaccination centers to the municipalities were also along the same lines.

    "The Greek people should be worried. The policy that accepts and supports business activity in Health and the lack of a uniform and exclusively public Health system not only cost dearly for the people but also leaves them unprotected," the statement said, adding that the provision of health services against the new flu must be conducted under state responsibility and free of charge for everyone, and ensure the prompt and adequate coverage of all areas.

    The KKE called for the immediate operation of mobile vaccination units to cover schools, work spaces and the social groups in need.

    [05] Tsipras tours Samos island

    Coalition of the Left Movements and Ecology, (SYNASPISMOS) leader Alexis Tsipras, on a tour of the northeastern Aegean island of Samos, on Tuesday met with members of the local tourism industry and discussed their problems.

    After the meeting, Tsipras said "although we are in the middle summer and in one of the most popular tourist destinations, the economic crisis is not on vacation.

    "On the contrary, it is severely affecting the enterprises and the small and medium sized businesses, the tourism enterprises and the tens of thousands of seasonal workers who face the risk of not being paid at the end of the tourism season," Tsipras added.

    "The government, instead of taking initiatives to rejuvenate the demand, making public investments and boosting the small and medium size enterprises and drafting programmes on employment, is in fact occupying itself only in giving 28 billion euros to the bankers and initiatives to major entrepreneurs in order to exchange the permanent jobs with flexible work positions. The country needs a radically different policy, otherwise we will all soon sink in the economic crisis," he added.

    On Wednesday, Alexis Tsipras will visit the mountain town of Mainalos, in Vytina prefecture, near Tripolis, to discuss matters related to the conservation and management of the natural resources.

    During the visit, Tsipras will tour Mainalos before paying a call on the Vytina Forest Inspection Service, followed by a visit to the Vytina town hall, where he will meet with mayor Yiannis Sakellariou.

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