ATHENS Feb 12 (Reuters) - Greece on Friday extended the full lockdown imposed on metropolitan Athens earlier this week to more regions of the country in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19 infections, the deputy civil protection minister said.
Effective on Saturday the region of Achaia in the northwest of the Peloponnese peninsula as well as Euboea, Greece's second-largest island after Crete, will be in lockdown until Feb. 22 at least, authorities said. This means schools, hair salons and non-essential retail shops will close.
"The epidemiological picture countrywide shows a steady deterioration," Vana Papaevangelou, a member of the committee of infectious disease experts advising the government, told a news briefing.
She said the occupancy rate at COVID-19 intensive care units in Athens hospitals had risen to 83%.
On Tuesday the government announced a full lockdown in metropolitan Athens to curb a resurgence in coronavirus cases and ease pressure on badly stretched health services.
"People should be doubly careful as there are COVID-19 variants in the community," Papaevangelou said.
Greece, which has fared relatively better than others in Europe during the pandemic, was forced to impose a partial lockdown in November after infections began climbing, threatening to overwhelm a health system weakened by a decade-long financial crisis.
On Friday, health authorities reported 1,410 new coronavirus cases and 21 deaths, bringing total infections to 170,244 since the first case was detected in February last year and COVID-related deaths to 6,077. (Reporting by George Georgiopoulos Editing by Mark Heinrich)