ATHENS, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Greece extended lockdown restrictions on Friday to more areas of the country as the COVID-19 pandemic showed no signs of waning exactly one year after its first coronavirus infection was detected, health authorities said.
From Saturday, the islands of Lefkada, Syros and Samos, the towns of Arta and Amphilochia in western Greece, the wider area around Corinth in the Peloponnese and Heraklion on the island of Crete will all be in lockdown.
This means that schools, hair salons and non-essential retail shops must close.
"The pandemic is spreading at increasing trends with 260 COVID-19-related hospital admissions on a daily basis," said Vana Papaevangelou, a member of the committee of infectious disease experts advising the government.
A full lockdown imposed in metropolitan Athens earlier this month remains in force.
"One year after the arrival of the pandemic we are still fighting the battle against an invisible enemy. We must persist until we win," Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias told a health briefing. "We owe it to those we have lost."
Health authorities are concerned about the rapid spread of the virus in the city of Piraeus, home to Greece's biggest port, where infections have surged by 80%, and they urged residents to comply with contagion prevention measures.
"We had many small surges in a lot of areas countrywide which means the fire cannot be put out. We have not seen a decline in the epidemiological load despite the lockdown. Mutations of the virus are playing a role," Papaevangelou said.
But the picture in some areas has improved. Authorities lifted restrictions on the islands of Mykonos and Karpathos and in the area of Tempe in the north.
Greece, which has fared better than many others in Europe during the pandemic, was forced to impose a partial lockdown in November after rising infections threatened to overwhelm a health system weakened by a decade-long financial crisis.
On Friday Greece reported 1,790 new coronavirus cases and 29 deaths, bringing total infections to 188,201 since the first case was detected last February 26, and COVID-related deaths to 6,439.
More than 850,000 people have been vaccinated so far, health authorities said, in the country of around 11 million. (Reporting by George Georgiopoulos Editing by Gareth Jones)
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