Recording one of the lowest number of COVID-19 cases in the European Union (EU), Greece has “set the bar” for managing coronavirus, U.S. Ambassador to the Hellenic Republic Geoffrey Pyatt told Athens 9,84 Radio in April. By the 28th of that month, the country had seen just 136 virus-related fatalities from a total of 2,534 cases—equating to 243 cases per one million of its 11 million population, far lower than neighbors Spain (4,965 cases per million) and Italy (3,298 cases million), as well as the U.S. (3,058 cases per million), for example.
At this point, Greece has “flattened the curve,” avoided a healthcare crisis and, as a result, many predict its economy will recover faster than others, with the International Monetary Fund predicting it will bounce back in 2021 with growth of 5.1 percent. Given that the country only exited a stringent international bailout program in 2018, after a decade of financial crisis during which its economy shrunk by a quarter and spend on health was reduced by three quarters, this success might come as a surprise.
Much of the praise has been handed to a new government that won a landslide election in July 2019. In the administration’s short time in power before COVID-19’s emergence, it hit the ground running to transform the economy. “We implemented a coherent economic plan that has had visible results. Citizens, investors, markets and rating agencies regained optimism in Greece’s potential,” explains Minister of Finance Christos Staikouras.
This year, the government transferred its quick, decisive and comprehensive management approach to contain the spread of the coronavirus. According to Pyatt, “The government deserves great credit for the way in which they have managed their response. Everybody around Europe, certainly friends of Greece in the U.S., have nothing but admiration for the way in which Prime Minister Mitsotakis and his team have managed this issue so professionally, relying on the scientists, relying on data.”