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Greece’s tourist season has begun on a beam of light with health authorities announcing that all 250 tests conducted on passengers landing in Heraklion, the Cretan capital, on the first day of regional airports reopening to international travellers yesterday have come in negative.
Some 6,500 tests, based on information garnered through passenger locator forms that incoming visitors are obliged to fill 48 hours ahead of arrival, were conducted nationwide according to the Greek Daily, Protothema. The results will be released throughout the day.
In what is seen as a test run for the tourist season, Greece’s 18 regional airports received their first international flights on Wednesday with over 40 planes landing at Crete’s Heraklion and Chania airports.
Staff at the island’s university hospital conducted the tests.
In contrast to many other European countries, the tourist-dependent nation has managed to keep infection rates and Covid-19 fatalities low after enforcing lockdown measures early on.
It has now resorted to “smart testing” of incoming travellers, applying algorithmic software to the information downloaded on passenger forms to try and detect potential coronavirus carriers. On the basis of barcodes they receive after completing the form, visitors are told whether they have to be examined or not, with 24 hours of self-isolation required at the address stated on the form until the results come through.
Despite the precautionary measures, Athens’ tourism minister Harry Theoharis admits that opening the country is still a “calculated risk.”
Greece has recorded 3,432 confirmed coronavirus cases since February and 192 Covid-linked deaths.