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Greece tightens coronavirus curbs in Athens as infections surge


ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek authorities on Friday tightened restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the greater Athens area, saying the pandemic was showing "steadily rising trends".

Earlier, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government stood ready to impose further COVID-19 curbs in Athens due to the surge of infections.

Effective from Monday and until Oct. 4, authorities set an upper limit of nine people in all public gatherings outdoors and suspended indoor and outdoor concerts. They also set a limit of 20 people attending funerals, weddings and baptisms.

People older than 68 were urged to curtail their movements, avoid public transport and wear masks.

Private- and public-sector employers will have to ensure that 40% of work is done from home and not in the office and apply rotating shifts.

The rise in infections in recent months has forced authorities to gradually reimpose bans including the mandatory use of masks in all closed public and private spaces.

Health authorities reported 339 new infections on Friday after 359 recorded on Thursday, with about half in the Athens metropolitan area, Attica, where about one third of the country's population lives.

That brought the total number since the first coronavirus case was detected in February to 14,738 cases. A total of 327 people have died.

"We are seeing trends that top 300 cases daily and the epicentre is Athens. The rise in infections coincides with the return of vacationers," said professor Gikas Magiorkinis, an infectious diseases expert.

Authorities tightened restrictions earlier in the week, saying the pandemic was showing "worrying signs of resilience".

(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos and Lefteris Papadimas; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Jonathan Oatis)

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