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Coronavirus: Greece suspends Qatar flights till mid-June after 12 passengers test positive

Passengers who were tested on arrival were on a Qatar Airways flight carrying 91 people from Doha to Athens
Tourism is a crucial part of the Greek economy, accounting for 20 percent of the country's economic output (Reuters)

Greece on Tuesday suspended flights to and from Qatar after 12 individuals on a plane from Doha tested positive for the coronavirus.

The individuals were on a Qatar Airways flight carrying 91 people from Doha to Athens that landed on Monday. 

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Tests were carried out for the virus and the passengers were taken to a quarantine hotel, authorities said.

Those who tested positive will be in quarantine for 14 days, and those who tested negative will remain in quarantine for seven days, the civil protection ministry said.

"Following these epidemiological facts, flights from and to Qatar are suspended until June 15," the ministry said in a statement.

Those who tested positive include nine people from Pakistan with Greek residency papers, two Greeks travelling from Australia and a member of a Greek-Japanese family, Reuters reported.

Greek tourism season

Greece has reported a low number of Covid-19 cases compared to many other European countries, and began a gradual easing of a weeks-long lockdown on 4 May. 

By Tuesday, it had reported 2,937 cases and 179 deaths.

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The official tourism season in Greece starts on 15 June, when hotels operating during the season reopen and some regular flights from abroad resume.

But planes will only be flying into Athens and Thessaloniki in the north – and only from those parts of Europe and the world that escaped the worst of the pandemic.

Other Greek airports are due to open on 1 July, AFP reported.

Tourism is a crucial part of the Greek economy, accounting for 20 percent of the country's economic output, and the lockdown imposed in March hit the country hard.

The Greek health ministry earlier on Tuesday said it had begun voluntary antibody tests on staff in hospitals, health centres and other related facilities.

Athens in May said it had acquired 200,000 Covid-19 antibody tests from US medical giant Abbott.