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Greece: Uptick in reported cases of coronavirus.

As of March 8, 2020, according to Wikipedia, there are 73 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Greece. (Of that 73 over 50 are persons who traveled together to Egypt & Israel.) Several days ago there was an article in the UK news paper the Guardian that schools at all levels and "archaeological sites" in several regions in Greece were closed. Also mentioned in that article was the news that the event planned for where the torch is lit for the Olympics has been "scaled back" to allow only a few "credentialed" persons to be in attendance. This is of concern to us. We have a RS trip to Greece scheduled to start on March 30. So far, neither the CDC nor the WHO is recommending that persons with plans to travel to Greece not proceed or reconsider. But the uptick in reported, confirmed cases and the possible closing of sites that are on the itinerary are reasons that we shall be monitoring the situation very closely. I would be interested to hear the thoughts of others booked on that trip or who may have other plans to visit Greece.

Posted by
7 posts

I am also concerned and your information was more than has been provided by the tour. My greatest concern beside site closures is the risk of a quarantine. I am flying through Paris to get to the tour.

Posted by
5 posts

My wife and I have a trip to Greece scheduled for April 10th. Actually we are hoping that the Rick Steves group will take the same step as they did for Italy and give us the option to reschedule to another date. We still want to go, but not now. The idea of potentially being seriously sick overseas is unsettling, especially since we are in the older and most vulnerable age group.

Posted by
18 posts

Here's a news article from yesterday, March 9. The situation is predicted only to get worse (as in the USA):

ATHENS - Greece has shut down schools, theaters and large public gatherings in three major regions of the country in the latest sweep of measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Cases have climbed dramatically in the country after health officials detected the virus among travelers returning from the Middle East. The measures have now pit health authorities against the powerful Greek Orthodox Church.

Health officials have suspended all mass gatherings at theaters, cinemas, museums and sports events in the Peloponnese regions of Achaia and Ileia as well as the island of Zakynthos.

Coronavirus cases in Greece tripled in recent days when travelers who had returned from a pilgrimage to Israel and Egypt were detected with the virus. Among them, a 65-year-old man battling pneumonia in a hospital isolation unit in the western port city of Patras.

A number of people were listed in serious condition.

Authorities are preparing for numbers to soar, potentially affecting up to 15 percent of Greece’s population of 15 million.

That means more than 5,000 intensive care units might be needed, raising concerns because only a fraction of them are operating – a result of a brutal eight-year financial crisis that drastically reduced hospital staff and resources.

George Patoulis, the regional governor of Attica, the biggest and most densely populated region of Greece, is calling for urgent measures.

Patoulis says he wants the government to hire extra medical staff and to stock up on masks, soap, antiseptic solutions and gloves at hospitals. He is also urging authorities to open up at least 100 more intensive care units in and around the capital of Athens.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis chaired a crisis meeting on Sunday to chart a strategy that would help contain the spread of the virus from Greece’s western-hit region to other parts of the country.

He also reached out to the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, which has refused to shut down churches and says priests will not stop distributing holy communion.

On a major religious holiday on Sunday, thousands of followers like this pensioner remained undeterred.

Of course we are continuing to take holy communion, she says, because we have faith in God and everything is in His hands.

The Greek president, who holds a mostly ceremonial role, was among those attending Mass, flanked by several senior ministers.

With Orthodox Easter approaching in April, church attendance is high, mainly among older followers.

But concerns over the virus’ fallout in neighboring Italy has some people expecting the senior council of bishops in Greece to take extraordinary measures soon. The bishops have called an emergency meeting this week.

Posted by
1 posts

We are scheduled for the March 28th trip to Greece and are also in the “high risk” group of being over 60. We would love to take this trip, but not with the current risk of quarantine or uncertain access to healthcare in a foreign country. I know that all travel carries risk, but these are generally outside of our control. Illness, a sprained ankle, being pickpocketed, or worse are examples. The coronavirus is a known risk and taking precautions is prudent and within our control at this time. We would also hate to learn that the sites we are traveling to Greece to see could be closed. For us, it would be wise to postpone this trip.

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you OldBeachBoy for this detailed update. I am on the April 10th tour with VA Travelers. Scheduled to travel
on Turkish Air from Boston through Istanbul. My greatest concern is for the seeming lack of adequate medical infrastructure.
Add to that the potential for closures on tour sites and I feel this would not make for an optimum experience. It is too late to cancel or switch tours at this point.
Without a Level 3 travel advisory, I do not think this tour will be cancelled. I am in the age demographic for concern but have no
other complications. At this point I am planning on travelling but quite uneasy as I travel solo.

Posted by
7 posts

Reschedule is feasible now but ... Nobody knows the future of this virus so when is safe? and much work to modify insurance (at potentially higher cost) , modify flights ( at potentially higher cost) and given pres trump may impose a complete travel ban on Europe ( except UK) it seems cancelling these upcoming tours really should be seriously considered by RS. Refund us and let us start over when the crisis is over. If there is a US ban in min essential travel to Europe they have to cancel and refund us ?

Posted by
4 posts

Ditto to all of the above. We are also in the “elderly” demographic, scheduled to travel in May. We definitely plan to visit Greece, if not in May, then in the future. This will be our fourth Rick Steves tour. Our non-refundable airfares are lost if we cancel, as is the tour deposit. However, the really big money Is the final tour payment, due two months before the departure date. Under these extremely unusual and unpredictable circumstances, it would be helpful and the right thing to do for Rick Steves to shorten the advance time for payment to perhaps two weeks before the trip. It is too difficult to assess this ever-changing situation so far in advance.

Posted by
578 posts

Before you assume anything is "lost", call the RS office and learn about your options. You may have to leave a message, but they will call you back.

Posted by
4 posts

Just saw the new guidelines allowing a tour change or credit for 2021. Hurray for Rick Steves!

Posted by
7 posts

Where did you see this? Reschedule for 2020 ONLY was what I was told by email.

With 70% of new infections coming from Europe ( Mike pence this am) on CBS) and the state Dept advising Americans not to travel to Europe they should cancel and refund the tours now. Travel insurance is a sunk cost why incur additional?

The proclamation from the pres last night takes risk of a quarantine from a maybe to a very likely event, and "routed " to one of 11 airports ..no info if this is at your expense.

We cannot predict when this is over.

Posted by
1838 posts

From the RS section re: coronavirus and those who have RS tours planned:

If you are traveling on a Rick Steves tour with a start date through May 2020, and you are concerned about your travel, we can transfer you to a different 2020 tour or offer a credit for a 2021 tour. If you would like to transfer to another 2020 tour, please call Tour Sales and Service at 425 608 4217 to discuss your options. If you would like to cancel your tour and get a credit for 2021, please email us at tour@ricksteves.com and we will process your transfer within 15 business days. We thank you in advance for your patience as our staff deals with an unprecedented volume of inquiries.