Cyprus further tightens measures against coronavirus

Cyprus further tightens measures against coronavirus

Due to the escalating number of coronavirus cases in the Republic of Cyprus, the government has further tightened measures, under the Quarantine Law Act, in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. As of early Friday, 3rd April 2020, there are a total number of 356 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths (https://www.philenews.com/koinonia/eidiseis/article/909758/live-koronoios-oles-oi-exelixeis-stin-kypro-kai-ston-kosmo).

The new strict measures that were introduced, and have been in effect as from 31st March 2020 at 6am, include prohibition of gatherings of people at any residence, other than of permanent residents, as well as the prohibition of any movement of persons from 9pm until 6am, except for those holding a Confirmation of Movement of an Employee certificate (Form A) (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/press/30032020_19.pdf).

Additionally, the use of the certificate of a citizen’s movement in exceptional cases, in accordance with the provisions of Form B, is limited to only once a day, after permission has been obtained by sending an SMS message to 8998. A written declaration for the movement of citizens in exceptional cases, which falls within the provisions of Form B, shall be used only by persons over 65 years of age.

Furthermore, all food and beverage retailers, including supermarkets, grocery stores, butchers, fish markets, bakeries, confectioneries, fruit shops, and liquor stores will remain closed every Sunday. It should be noted that kiosks are excluded from the ban, provided that they do not market retail products.

Other measures include the suspension of operation of certain services. These encompass tourist and travel agencies, aircraft provision services, with the exception of those relating to the service of flights which are exceptionally approved by the Minister of Transport, Communications and Works, as well as cargo flights. Also, the number of persons including the driver during taxi rides, in a private car and/or in other vehicles shall not exceed three persons.

The interministerial committee has also decided upon specific actions in order to ensure that the public adheres to the measures, for their health and safety. Such actions encapsulate the increase in the fine from EUR 150 to EUR 300, increase of controls at check points, and utilization of neighborhood watch officers.

On parallel lines, recommendations will be made to commercial banks to issue credit cards to beneficiaries based on their deposits and ways of protecting customers who withdraw cash from automatic cash points.

Also, in order to limit the movement of those who have been identified as positive to the coronavirus and are in self-isolation, the Ministry of Health is studying ways to impose electronic home surveillance.

The Health Minister, Mr. Constantinos Ioannou has declared that the right of entry into the Republic, without the presentation of a medical examination certificate for coronavirus, applies to those who have travelled abroad for medical reasons, and the persons who accompanied them at their departure or hospitalization. This also applies to students who belong to “vulnerable groups” in relation to the coronavirus, in accordance with the Press release issued by the Ministry of Health, dated 16 March 2020 (https://in-cyprus.philenews.com/coronavirus-vulnerable-groups-of-population-restricted-from-workplace/).

Those who have travelled for medical reasons, instead of presenting the medical certificate, should hold a certificate from the local Diplomatic Missions of the Republic of Cyprus.

Also, students that belong to the vulnerable groups should hold a special certificate which will be issued only after an evaluation of the prerequired medical certificates by a three-member Medical Council. Applications will be submitted to the e-mail address of the Pancyprian Medical Association at cyma@pis.cyma.org.cy.

Also, if necessary, the Republic of Cyprus will charter special flights from Athens and London in order to facilitate the return of passengers, who fall under the above categories, to the Republic of Cyprus.

All those in the above categories entering the territory of the Republic of Cyprus will remain in quarantine for 14 days after their arrival, in areas designated by the State, except for persons who were abroad for medical reasons as mentioned above. These persons will remain in self-isolation in order to continue, unhindered, their medical treatment (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/press/30032020_19.pdf).

It is understood that upon entering the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, they will undergo a mandatory examination for the COVID-19 disease, after which the provisions of the relevant medical protocol will be followed.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also announced that as of 31st March 2020, 1pm, Cypriot citizens abroad can register on the new platform www.connect2cy.gov.cy. This will enable the Foreign Ministry to map more accurately the presence of Cypriots around the world and provide consular assistance and support more effectively in cases of need, through the network of Diplomatic Missions of the Republic abroad (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/press/31032020_8.pdf).

With this new launch, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is establishing a direct channel of communication with users, aiming to reconnect Cypriot citizens abroad with their home country and to convey to them, in a secure and timely manner, important information on issues that may be of interest to them. As of early Thursday, 2nd April 2020, over 10,000 people have signed up to it (https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/04/02/over-10000-people-sign-up-to-cypriots-abroad-portal/).

Moreover, on the 2nd April 2020, the Cyprus government announced the extension on the ban of commercial flights for another two weeks. The Minister of Transport, Mr. Yiannis Karousos, stated that the extension would be in effect as of midnight, on 4th April 4 and for 14 days. The ban excludes cargo flights (https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/04/02/coronavirus-cyprus-extends-flight-ban-for-another-two-weeks/).

According to the Minister, the decision was taken after assessing the situation in Cyprus and taking into consideration the “dramatic situation in other states in Europe and internationally”. The initial ban was introduced on 21st March, again for a 14-day period.

It should be noted that a total of 299 persons were booked by police from 6pm on Thursday, 2nd April 2019, until 6am on Friday, 3rd April 2020, in violation of a ban on movements (https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/04/03/coronavirus-nearly-300-booked-for-violating-movement-ban/).

The Chief of Police stated on Wednesday, 1st April 2020, that the police force will be bringing in the National Guard, as part of ‘relentless’ efforts to stop people violating quarantine orders. An epitome example of individuals deliberately ignoring the quarantine orders of the government, is in Larnaca, where the police force busted a party with 24 people in a flat, on Tuesday, 1stApril 2020 (https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/04/01/coronavirus-police-chief-were-bringing-in-the-national-guard/).

On another note, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) contributes to the global response to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Under its plan for managing emerging health threats, EMA supports the development and approval of vaccines and treatments for novel coronavirus, together with other regulators in the European Union (EU) and worldwide. Among the potential treatments for the coronavirus that are undergoing clinical trials, are chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which are currently used to treat malaria and some autoimmune diseases (https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/human-regulatory/overview/public-health-threats/coronavirus-disease-covid-19) (https://www.stockwatch.com.cy/el/article/eyropaiki-oikonomia/o-ema-ston-agona-gia-anaptyxi-therapeion-kai-emvolion-kata-toy-covid-19).

According to the Ministry of Health, large clinical trials are ongoing to generate reliable data necessary to establish the efficacy and safety of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of the virus. Given the urgency and pressure that health systems face to save lives during the pandemic, some countries, including the US and France, have set up strict protocols to allow the experimental use of these two drugs in patients with severe forms of the disease (https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/04/02/coronavirus-chloroquine-only-used-in-trials-or-emergencies-says-ministry/).

As such, the health authorities in Cyprus said on Tuesday, 31st March 2020, they have started treating patients suffering from Covid-19 with chloroquine and azithromycin following the advice of the advisory committee on the pandemic. The Health Insurance Organization (HIO) stated “It is noted that not all patients need treatment, therefore starting it would be decided by the doctors on the basis of the guidelines issued by the health ministry advisory committee”.