March 12, 2020 / 6:45 AM / 23 days ago

Greece reports first coronavirus death, shuts cinemas, gyms

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece reported its first fatality from a coronavirus infection on Thursday as it extended a closure of schools to include cinemas, theatres and nightclubs to help prevent a spread of the disease.

The 66-year-old man had returned from a religious pilgrimage to Israel and Egypt at the end of February. He had been in hospital for little over a week and had underlying health issues, the health ministry said.

There were 117 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Greece by Thursday, with 18 new infections added in the past 24 hours. Most of those affected had mild symptoms, Sotiris Tsiodras, the health ministry coordinator, said.

The closure of gyms, cinemas, nightclubs and theatres would apply for a period of two weeks, and followed a decision in the week by authorities to shut schools across the country.

Separately, passengers on board a ferry boat were briefly quarantined as a precaution after a crew member said he felt unwell, a health ministry spokesman said. The crew member disembarked for further health checks and was later given the all-clear.

Greece has said it will recruit 2,000 medical workers to boost the health system, depleted by years of financial crisis.

Reporting By Michele Kambas and George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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