MIT Professor interview: Greece on good coronavirus recovery path

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MIT Professor interview: Greece on good coronavirus recovery pathAn applied mathematician at the Sloan School of Management at perhaps the world’s foremost scientific university, he developed an epidemiological model that suggests Greece is unlikely to see a significant increase in cases

Already lauded for having one the world’s best records in dealing with the COVID-19 Coronavirus, the early lockdown that held down the number of cases and deaths will pay further dividends this summer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Prof. Dimitris Bertsimas has predicted.

An applied mathematician at the Sloan School of Management at perhaps the world’s foremost scientific university, he developed an epidemiological model that suggests Greece is unlikely to see a significant increase in cases.

In an interview with Sunday’s Kathimerini, Bertsimas, who is also an Associate Dean of Business Analytics at MIT in Boston, said that his so-called Delphi model, which he developed with a group of his students, uses data from some 10,000 patients worldwide and artificial intelligence to predict the evolution of the virus.

In Greece’s case, there is less chance of an uptick in cases this summer, just as the New Democracy government is trying to lure tourists to save the season and bring in critical revenues for a wobbly economy that saw most businesses closed during a long lockdown.

“Things are going well,” he said, adding that Greek authorities reacted correctly to the pandemic but he added that constant vigilance is required, although there’s been widespread ignoring of social distancing requirements as more and more businesses are opening and hotels are set to open their doors, supposed to apply strict hygiene protocols.

“In Greece, 10 new patients a day is not a large number. But just think what would happen if one patient comes into contact with another 10 and then each one of them with another 10?” he asked.

Bertsimas cited the example of Singapore, which also did well in containing the virus initially but is now dealing with a second wave of the pandemic after having opened up its economy following a public lockdown.

He said Greece should continue with a cautious phased-in reopening although there’s pressure from cash-starved businesses who want to save themselves from going broke after a long drought.

He said the world, despite some progress and unprecedented cooperation, is still far from seeing a vaccine and that there’s a risk of a return of the virus as people pent up for weeks or months are flocking to public gathering spots and beaches.

In the flu pandemic of 1918, 70 percent of cases occurred in the second wave, between September and January, he noted, coinciding with flu season and with a vaccine unlikely to be ready by this autumn.

Greek authorities on May 25 began the fourth lifting of restrictions that saw bars, restaurants, and taverns open with conditions and travel to the islands' resume, preparing for a July 1 start of tourism.

Seasonal hotels are to open from June 15, while flights to all airports will resume from July 1 but only from countries with low rates of COVID-19, shutting out the United States and the United Kingdom, for now, two major markets for Greece.

Passengers flying into Greece will not be subjected to diagnostic tests or quarantine, though spot COVID-19 tests will be carried out at airports once international air traffic starts to get back to normal this year.

Read more at thenationalherald.com

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinationsGreek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons License: CC-BY-SA Copyright: Clavipath

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