Health officials and opposition MPs in Greece have accused the government of distorting the coronavirus figures, by counting people who return from the Islands and test positive for the virus in the mainland, as a regional infection rather than an Island infection. The method of counting coronavirus cases by region rather than island has been enforced since mid-July – the peak summer season for tourism.
The change in policy has made in more difficult to gauge the level of transmission in popular islands such as Zante and Mykonos.
Panagiotis Papanikolaou, the secretary of the Federation of Hospital Doctors’ Associations of Greece, described the method of collecting coronavirus figures as “unacceptable”.
Dr Papanikolaou accused the tourism industry of “strong-arming the government” into reducing the number of cases on popular holiday destinations.
Nikos Chardalias, the minister of civil protection, said the method of the collecting coronavirus figures by region was to protect each individual island from negativity.
Mr Chardalias said: “The non-announcement of confirmed cases per island happens so that there is no defamation of each area.”
Yiannis Ragousis, an MP with the opposition Syriza party, condemned the strategy and warned it risked the health of tens of thousands of people.
She said: “They knew what was going on and said nothing. Neither to the residents, nor to visitors.
“Their sloppy excuse that they supposedly didn’t want to defame any particular island cannot convince anyone.”
Vasilis Kontozamanis, the deputy health minister, dismissed the allegations, and said: “We have provided credible information, never concealed anything and will not do so.”
Greece remains on the watch list of the UK Government following a surge in cases from passengers returning to Britain.
Public Health Wales confirmed at least 16 cases of COVID-19, from three different parties who were on flight from the Greek Island of Zante to Cardiff on August 25.
In Greece, the seven-day coronavirus case rate is per 100,000 people is 13.8 – compared to 14.7 in the UK.
A seven-day rate of 20 is the threshold above which the Westminster Government has considered triggering quarantine conditions.
Across Greece there has been more than 10,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 250 deaths since the start of the pandemic.