Doctor Challenges COVID-19 Deniers to Join Him on Duty Without Wearing a Mask

A doctor in Greece, where coronavirus cases have surpassed 18,400, has challenged "mask- and COVID-19 deniers" to join him during a shift at his hospital without wearing a mask.

Nikos Razis, a doctor in the Greek capital of Athens, reportedly shared the invitation on Facebook in a post shared with an image of him wearing a mask and a face shield, according to The Guardian.

"This is an official invitation to mask- and COVID-19 deniers to accompany me for nine whole hours during the emergency duty of the hospital the day after tomorrow. But without a mask and a signed statement. Next to me. With me. Among patients of COVID-19," Razis reportedly wrote in the post, which was no longer available on Facebook.

Razi is said to have noted "nobody responded in the 24 hours the invitation was published," according to the blog Keeping Talking Greece.

Anti-mask sentiment in Greece has increased in the country following the reopening of schools last month, with anti-mask activists protesting against the requirement for students to wear face coverings in classrooms, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Last month, judicial authorities in Greece were told to pursue the prosecution of anti-mask campaigners with penalties for convictions of up to a year in prison, AP reported.

The instructions were issued by Greek Supreme Court prosecutor Vassilis Pliotas who described the anti-mask activists as a threat to public health and public order, noting the activists caused "understandable concern among law-abiding citizens."

Pilotas confirmed that online posts and other actions would also merit prosecution for the offense, which normally entails a fine and has rarely led to imprisonment, AP reported.

On Thursday, students in Athens calling for increased COVID-19 safety measures clashed with Greek police in several protests held in response to the dangers posed by overcrowding at schools amid the ongoing pandemic.

Average daily new infections in Greece have been increasing on a sharp incline from late July, after remaining flat for most of the outbreak, according to data compiled by Worldometer.

Lockdown measures in Greece were first imposed in the country back in March but the country began lifting restrictions from May.

Athens Greece coronavirus protest school safety
A protester takes part in a demonstation over the risks of COVID-19 in schools in Athens, Greece on October 1. A doctor in the Greek capital has reportedly challenged "COVID-19 deniers" to join him on duty without wearing a mask. Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP via Getty Images

In late July, the country announced masks would be required in all indoor public spaces as well as in outdoor public spaces where social distancing is not possible.

"The rise in infections in Athens and Thessaloniki proves the virus is still here. The requirement is for the collective good. The situation must not cause panic but neither complacency," Greece's Civil Protection Deputy Minister Nikos Hardalias said at the time.

Weekly new cases in the country have been rising from the week commencing July 27 through the week commencing September 21, according to the latest report Thursday from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Weekly death tolls in Greece have also increased since late July, with the largest jump reported in the week commencing September 21, when the country recorded a 55.17 percent rise in weekly new fatalities from the previous week, according to WHO's report Thursday.

The wider picture

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 34 million people across the globe since it was first reported in Wuhan, China, including more than 7.2 million in the U.S. More than a million have died following infection, while more than 23.6 million have reportedly recovered as of Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The graphics below, provided by Statista, illustrate the spread of COVID-19 cases in countries across the globe.

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The graphic below, also provided by Statista, illustrates U.S. states with the most COVID-19 cases.

COVID-19 cases in U.S.