Cyprus health authorities will step up measures against novel coronavirus by widening screening of passengers arriving at ports and airports from infected countries Italy, South Korea, Japan and Iran.
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou told reporters on Tuesday that officials will be screening passengers arriving at Cyprus entry points from northern Italy, South Korea, Japan and Iran and not just China.
He announced the new measures after a meeting of the Epidemiological Surveillance Unit.
“As of today, northern Italy, South Korea, Japan and Iran, countries where a large number of confirmed cases have been recorded, are added to the list of high-risk countries.
Passengers coming from these destinations will be subject to the same checks at the points of entry to the Republic of Cyprus, as those passengers who come from China.”
Ioannou added that the same policy will apply for people who have recently travelled to these countries and cross checkpoints along at the Green Line.
He said travellers will be asked to answer a specific set of questions and depending on the answer, the relevant protocols will be activated.
Health authorities have also decided that airlines flying to Cyprus should inform any passenger with symptoms to contact the airport authorities upon arrival.
The Health Ministry says it remains on alert and has a plan, in line with the World Health Organisation as to what should be done in the event the coronavirus outbreak develops into a pandemic.
“I was given a plan of action on how Cyprus will handle the virus should there be an epidemic,” said Ioannou without wanting to go into details.
Twelve high school pupils on an Erasmus programme in Milan are to return home on Wednesday after the programme was cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak in the north of Italy.
The Minister said these kids are to be screened upon arrival and anyone with symptoms will be taken to hospital for checks.
“If they have no symptoms, they will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days. If symptoms do manifest once they go home, they will have written instructions to immediately contact health authorities.”
Ioannou will meet with the Interior, Foreign and Justice Ministers on Wednesday to further evaluate the situation and if necessary, more measures will be introduced.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued travel advice for Italy and South Korea, due to the outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19), advising Cypriots to avoid traveling to these areas.
“Cypriot citizens visiting or staying in Italy are asked to be vigilant, follow local and international media for updates, follow instructions of the competent authorities in Italy and take individual protective measures, as advised by Italian and international health authorities.”