Greece confirmed 2,020 new Covid-19 infections in the last 24 hours including 56 fatalities according to the National Public Health Organization (EODY) on Friday. Meanwhile, representatives of the Health Ministry are pushing the narrative that hospital admissions are slowly dropping. On the economic front, the same dichotomy of messages resounds as officials tout positive plans and indicators, while the banks speak endlessly of non-producing loans about to bankrupt many businesses if not the whole country.
For months now conflicting news has the public deep in an unknowing as to the real pandemic situation in the country. For instance, few people we’ve talking to on the streets here in Heraklion know that 50 new cases were recorded in the last 24 hours in this city alone. 24 new COVID-19 cases in Chania might also surprise citizens there, but what’s stunning is the government is blaming a slow vaccine rollout on everyone but Athens officials.
The latest PR slapshot tells of anti-vaxers being the cause of sluggish inoculation numbers. Previously, politicians were blaming the EU for supply problems, and before that young people for spreading the virus. Not once have officials even hinted at any mistakes in procedure or theory on their part. The tourism ministry, health ministry, and senior advisors all seem to be on an economics page instead of stuck in a health emergency.
Sadly, the media is stuck in a cheerleading session to parrot exactly what Tourism boss Harry Theoharis’ press department sends them. In this story the normal tourist demographics and marketing knowhow become a brilliant strategy to gleen five-star clients to five-star resorts on islands Greek officials have vaccinated ahead of aging populations elsewhere in the country. “COVID-19 Pandemic Drives Greek Tourism to 5-Star Customers” should only be read with big a glass of Cretan wine in hand.
Finally, I am not sure why Voice of America is parroting the same tourism PR as Theoharis? The answer, in part, can be found in a recent Economist story entitled “How Greece became Europe’s unlikely model student,” which explains that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is the European Union’s “teacher’s pet” of obedient bean counters. And the lead to the story clues us how old people can be left to die of COVID so that touristy islands can proclaim their safeness. Charlemagne writes, “So long as its finances are in order, no one cares what else it does.” The mission, the struggle to make Greece more “European” by Brussels standards, has Greek politicians pretending to be American.
So, if pretending to be America is anything like former President Donald Trump’s method, then the coronavirus will go away on its own taking Greek debt with it. Reuters told us the other day that the Greek central bank estimates that a quarter of loans to the tourism sector. And as we’ve been told many times, tourism accounts for a fifth of the overall economy. Factoring in the fact that most experts predict a maximum of 50% of 2019’s tourist euros this year, and even the middle message seems horrid. My question is; “When will someone in Athens finally admit this?”