President Nicos Anastasiades urged people to vaccinate against Covid-19 on Friday, saying it was not the government’s intention to divide the population between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, but it was duty bound to protect the lives of all the people.

Anastasiades held a televised address to the country about three hours before the health minister was expected to announce stricter measures designed to stem the spread of the infections, which have exceeded 1,000 for three days in a row.

The president said what concerned him and the government was the protection of health, personal freedoms, and the economy.

“All three are in danger since the rising admissions tested the health system while to prevent the collapse of the system, we are led to decisions that suspend treatment of a large section of ailing fellow citizens.”

The gravity of the situation is highlighted by the fact that during the week between July 8 and July 15, there were 6,853 infections. People hospitalised with Covid reached 181 on Thursday.

The figures confirmed that the new, dangerous Delta variant, is transmitted fast and the spread is now out of control, the president said.

Nine out of 10 of those hospitalised were either unvaccinated or had not received both shots, in their majority under 40.

Anastasiades said in the past, it had been deemed necessary to enforce lockdowns because there was no other choice. Since then, however, people can protect themselves from Covid by vaccinating.

Signalling what was widely expected, stricter and broader enforcement of a SafePass, the president said it aimed to prevent the risk of the health system collapsing under the pressure of rising numbers of people needing care.

He said the state’s choices for the vaccination programme to be successful were two: either to make it mandatory, or, through other measures, to encourage vaccination of the entire population.

Anastasiades said the government respected the people’s right to choose and did not emulate other countries by making jabs mandatory.

He said the measures they chose aimed to protect the many from the “indifference and choice of the few.”

“Let me be clear; the government’s intention is not to divide people in those who are vaccinated and the unvaccinated. Our respect to each citizen’s right to choose is a given.”

“However, at the same time, as a state we have a duty to protect all the citizens’ right to life and work.”

Making the decision to display a SafePass stricter, aims to protect the country’s health system and the viability of businesses.

“Not to put in danger the right of those vaccinated to enjoy their freedoms. That is why the many should not be put in danger because of the few.”

Or the few depriving the freedom of the many or threatening social cohesion and restricting the right of the many to return to normality.

“I am certain that you share my conclusions, concerns, and worries, even if the measures we have announced or will announce are not desirable. Now is the time, for each one of us, to take the matter of everyone’s life and health into our own hands, with seriousness, a sense of responsibility and solidarity”.