Coronavirus live news: Hong Kong and California see record daily cases; ‘huge discrepancy’ in South Africa death toll | World news

Everyone knew that reopening Greece to tourist markets would be a calculated risk, fraught with the danger of potentially importing coronavirus cases with the need to keep an economy overly dependent on tourism afloat.

As holidaymakers fly into the country, and trickle into the Greek capital, the extent to which the gambit has paid off is becoming ever clearer.

The data, say hoteliers, is disheartening at least thus far. Nationwide, the chamber of hoteliers of Greece has seen profits plunging by an unprecedented 5.6bn (£5bn) in 2020.

In Athens, where the Hilton and iconic Grande Bretagne only opened this month, occupancy rates are at an all-time low.

In June last year they reached 93%; in June this year they stood at 26%, with barely 5% of all hotel rooms in the capital occupied in April and May.

Losses in the region of Attica and the Argosaronic Gulf alone, are expected to exceed 300m through January to June.

Some myths have been busted. With Britain’s high contagion and fatality rates, industry figures worried that tourists flying in from the UK would pose a particular risk.

Mass testing of passengers arriving on flights from Britain ultimately proved exceptional for what it didn’t show: of the 3,000 tested for the virus, within 48 hours of airlinks being resumed, not one positive case was found.

Tourism officials now say the sector’s immediate future will depend on arrivals from the UK, Greece’s most lucrative market and after Germany by far the country’s biggest.

On Tuesday, Athens’ deputy civil protection minister, Nikos Hardalias, announced that 295 foreign travellers had tested positive for coronavirus between 1-19 July. Of that number, the vast majority were from neighbouring Balkan countries, with most from Serbia, he said.

The rise has alarmed epidemiologists in a country that, to date, has registered 200 Covid-19 deaths and 4,077 cases of coronavirus, far lower than its European neighbours.

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