In a bid to bolster vaccinations amongst older individuals, the prime minister of Greece introduced on Tuesday that Covid pictures can be compulsory for individuals ages 60 or older, and that those that did not ebook a primary shot by Jan. 16 would face fines.

Τhe transfer got here because the Greek well being authorities attempt to curb a spike in coronavirus instances and deaths, whereas bracing for the doable impact of the Omicron variant.

About 500,000 individuals in Greece ages 60 or older have but to be vaccinated in opposition to Covid-19, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis advised a cupboard assembly. Those that fail to fulfill the deadline will face a month-to-month positive of 100 euros ($113), the income from which is able to go towards funding state hospitals which have been stretched by the pandemic, he mentioned.

Describing the coverage as “an act of justice for the vaccinated,” Mr. Mitsotakis mentioned he had apprehensive about penalizing individuals however hoped they might see the transfer as an act of “encouragement, not repression.”

He mentioned: “I felt an obligation to face by essentially the most susceptible, even when it’d briefly displease them.”

Greece is averaging greater than 6,400 new instances a day, among the many highest numbers for the reason that begin of the pandemic, in keeping with the Heart for Programs Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins College. With considerations that the winter holidays will result in the additional unfold of the virus, Mr. Mitsotakis mentioned that extra free testing kits can be made accessible over the following two months.

Greater than 60 p.c of Greece’s inhabitants is totally vaccinated. This month, Greece barred unvaccinated people from cinemas, theaters, museums and gymnasiums, becoming a member of a rising variety of European nations imposing new restrictions on those that haven’t had Covid pictures.

Austria introduced this month that vaccines would become mandatory for all adults beginning in February, the primary Western democracy to take such a step.

The unfold of the Omicron variant has unnerved the Greek authorities, who final week barred vacationers from 9 African international locations after researchers in southern Africa introduced {that a} new variant had been detected. 5 Greek residents getting back from Africa have been positioned in quarantine on Saturday even after testing adverse for the virus.

The European Union’s public well being physique mentioned it had confirmed 42 instances of the variant throughout the bloc, all of which have been delicate or asymptomatic.

The origins of the variant, and the menace it poses, remain uncertain.