March 5, 2020 / 7:00 AM / a month ago

Greek coronavirus cases triple after people linked to pilgrim test positive

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece said on Wednesday that 21 people linked to man who had tested positive for coronavirus after they all visited Israel and Egypt had themselves become infected.

The new cases brought the total in Greece to 31, and health ministry official Sotiris Tsiodras said a significant rise was expected in the coming weeks.

The 66-year-old man had recently returned from a religious pilgrimage to Israel and Egypt as part of a group. His wife also tested positive.

“More than 400 contacts (in the group) have been tracked,” Tsiodras said. “Checks will continue. Up to now, 21 of 24 people checked were found positive.”

On Wednesday, the government ordered the closure of schools and banned public gatherings in three districts in western Greece until Friday as a precaution after a person from the region tested positive for coronavirus.

Separately, health authorities dismissed media reports that a Swiss-owned cruise ship carrying 2,570 passengers and bound for the island of Corfu in western Greece, had been placed under quarantine due to coronavirus fears.

The ship was making an 11-day Mediterranean cruise, according to the company website.

Reporting By Michele Kambas and George Georgiopoulos in Athens, Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi in Zurich, editing by Gareth Jones and Angus MacSwan

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