EODY: 3,199 new cases, 43 deaths nationwide in last 24 hours, focus on Thessaloniki,

As the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths, and intubations gradually rise, authorities and experts are turning their attention to northern Greece, where an exceptionally low vaccination rate and a high number of cases has placed Thessaloniki and the broader region into the high-risk red zone.

A total of 15,598 people have died of COVID-19 in Greece since the start of the pandemic.

Thessaloniki is of exceptional concern as a religious holiday on 26 October and the 28 October national OXI day holiday (when in 1949 Greece refused to surrender to Mussolini's forces) draws thousands of faithful and parade marchers gather each year.

Last year, the 26 October feast day of the city's patron saint, Saint Demetrios, became a COVID-19 superspreader event as it drew many thousands of faithful without masks and huddled in a huge queue with no social distancing. That is believed to have aggravated the huge public health crisis in northern Greece, when hospital came near the verge of collapse.

Authorities have yet to announce what public health measures will be enforced at the religious festival.

The government has announced, however, that the students parade for OXI day will take place as usual on 27 October, with masks and social distancing, and the 28 October parade will have a duration of no more than an hour and will include marchers only from the Armed Forces, and not the plethora of groups and organisations that normally parade.

Parades as nationwide, public 'coronaparties'

OXI day parades are conducted in towns and cities all over the country and that has stirred alarm among experts.

Noting that large private "coronaparties" in the past caused a media and public uproar, Dr.Yorgos Boulbasakos, head of...

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