When Pavlos Pandelides realised the coronavirus pandemic was transferring west, he purchased a airplane ticket and flew from Athens to London. He then drove north to Nottingham to gather his daughter, a scholar on the metropolis’s college, earlier than returning together with her the subsequent day to Greece. An ardent admirer of all issues British, the businessman had completely little doubt that what he was doing was proper. “The British are fighters however I may see they had been underestimating this,” he mentioned.
Whereas Covid-19 was tearing by way of northern Italy, Boris Johnson was nonetheless faltering, together with his authorities displaying worrying indicators of complacency. There was, mentioned Pandelides, no time to waste. “It was greater than a protecting father factor. It was clear they had been about to essentially mess up.”
Within the weeks previous the suspension on 23 March by Athens’ centre-right administration of air hyperlinks with the UK, demand for airplane tickets dwelling from Britain’s giant Greek neighborhood hit unprecedented heights.
Greeks, like many different Europeans, have been left astonished and alarmed by the Johnson authorities’s dealing with of the general public well being emergency. Britain’s chaotic technique, preliminary soft-touch strategy and excessive loss of life toll have been met with disbelief in a rustic that, regardless of the eviscerating results of a close to decade-long debt disaster, has kept the virus under control.
“Johnson’s administration of the pandemic has been nearly Mediterranean in type, flippant and carefree,” mentioned the financial analyst Antonis Papagiannidis. “You’ll be able to’t assist however suppose that individuals have been left to rot, that the pursuits of the economic system had been put earlier than well being.”
Within the absence of accountable management, Britons had been on the receiving finish of conflicting messages, he mentioned. “First, they’re informed, ‘There’s no drawback’; then, ‘Oh, there’s a drawback’. That’s not a option to deal with accountable residents. They need to have been knowledgeable of the actual dangers and allowed to take care of them with their legendary stiff higher lip.”
In distinction to the greater than 31,000 who’ve now succumbed to the illness within the UK, Greece has recorded one of many continent’s lowest casualty charges, with 150 deaths and fewer than 2,700 confirmed coronavirus cases after enforcement of powerful measures to comprise the epidemic early on.
It has been a stark change of fortune for a nation extra often related to civil disobedience and incompetence – each merchandise of a dysfunctional state.
As Britain enters the week unsure of whether or not its lockdown might be considerably eased, Greeks are preparing beaches and hotels for a tourist season they hope will start in July as restrictions steadily unwind.
Prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has to date resisted the temptation to brag. However as epidemiologists proceed to talk of a flattening of the curve, polls present help for his authorities at an all-time excessive. Pleasure has changed anger and disgrace – sentiments that prevailed all through the rollercoaster experience that was the nation’s brush with chapter. Belief within the capacity of state establishments has additionally reportedly returned.
The resilience gained by way of years of disaster might have ready Greeks to deal with the pandemic, analysts say.
However Mitsotakis, a former banker who assumed energy lower than a yr in the past, has additionally been credited with decisive management, shutting down the economic system – a physique blow when it was simply starting to recuperate – and deferring to medical recommendation from the outset.
The Greek chief understood that the nation’s austerity-hit well being system would shortly collapse if the virus wasn’t contained. Consultants in infectious illnesses had been introduced in, taking centre stage with each day briefings.
“He’s a particulars man who reads each examine, each new little bit of analysis about any advance on the virus,” mentioned an aide. “He’ll discover out about Greeks who’ve excessive positions in pharmaceutical corporations overseas, and reaches out to them.”
There was, he added, no room for spin, showmanship, hubris or “any of the emotions of invincibility” that so usually shackle nations with an imperial previous. “We had been very conscious of Greece’s limitations.”
Johnson’s sickness, his dramatic hospitalisation and reported brush with loss of life have, nonetheless, resonated in Greece, the place many have drawn parallels to the tragedies of historic writers so beloved by the classicist prime minister.
“In some methods, what has occurred to him smacks of historic drama,” mentioned Papagiannidis. “There is a component of catharsis, of being purged, that’s onerous to overlook, however what is going on to Britain fills us Greeks with emotions of ache and sorrow.”
— to www.theguardian.com