Cypriot leaders to discuss coronavirus measures

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Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will hold a rare meeting on Monday to discuss the best ways of cooperation to tackle the coronavirus across the divide.

According to a statement, the two leaders will meet at the Ledra Palace hotel in the Nicosia buffer zone on Monday at 7 pm to discuss joint measures against the virus.

It will take place one hour after the scheduled meeting of the bicommunal technical committee on health issues.

The committee will then brief the leaders on the best ways of cooperation and the measures that need to be put in place for the best possible protection of the population.

The meeting follows a phone call between Anastasiades and Akinci on Friday, with the two leaders voicing concerns over the risks posed by the coronavirus and the need to implement common measures to protect the Cypriot people on both sides of the divide.

The meeting also comes after Cyprus had its first scare with a suspect coronavirus case on when a 22-year-old Chinese traveller was spotted with a high fever at Larnaca airport.

The man was treated in isolation at Nicosia General Hospital until test results sent to a lab in Greece came back negative.

Screenings of travellers from China are being carried out at Cyprus legal ports of entry, while Turkish Cypriot authorities have been reported to be conducting screenings of passengers at the Tymbou (Ercan) airport in the Turkish occupied north of the island.

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Monday, that local authorities are in constant contact with the World Health Organisation and will act on any instructions given.

Ioannou said that at the moment there is no need for further measures at the country’s entry point, nor is there a need to put Cyprus in lockdown mode.

Authorities at entry points will continue screening only passengers from China.

He also said that as of Monday, Cyprus health services will be able to perform coronavirus tests themselves.

Samples of the first suspect case were sent to a lab in Greece due to the lack of facilities.

The death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak in China’s central Hubei province rose by 56 to 350 on Monday, Chinese state television reported citing official figures.

The Philippines said on Sunday that a 44-year-old Chinese man had died of the new coronavirus, the first fatality from the growing outbreak outside of China, where the epidemic started.

Across China, 2,590 new infections were confirmed on Saturday, the largest daily increase, bringing the total to 14,380, according to the country’s National Health Commission.

Infections have also been reported in more than two dozen other countries and territories, including Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia, Spain, Thailand and the United States.

The United States has reported its first case of person-to-person transmission inside its territory. Germany, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and South Korea have recorded similar infections, suggesting greater potential for spreading.

The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern but said global trade and travel restrictions are not needed.

The previously unknown coronavirus strain is believed to have emerged in December from illegally traded wildlife at a market in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people.