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Four crossings to remain shut over COVID-19 fears

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The four crossing points closed as a precaution against coronavirus will remain closed until Monday when the situation will be evaluated, said Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou.

Ioannou briefed the National Council which evaluated the situation on the COVID-19 crisis including the decision to suspend the operation of four crossing points along the island’s divide.

“The Ministerial Committee on COVID-19 decided that the measure to temporarily suspend the operation of crossing points will continue until next Monday when the committee will convene to evaluate the situation,” Ioannou told reporters Thursday.

He said the situation is being evaluated on a daily basis and decisions are taken accordingly.

Ioannou underlined there is “no political consideration” behind the decision to suspend the operation of the four crossing points, saying these are urgent measures as a precaution due to coronavirus.

“We are obliged to implement at the crossing points the same checks that are being carried out at the airports.”

Ioannou also explained that the decision to suspend the operation of the four crossing points was taken given the shortage of hospital staff to carry out the checks.

He said the Ministry launched a call for interest from private nurses but received a limited response and then called for the expression of interest from the staff at state hospitals to work overtime to carry out checks at the crossing points.

“The interest received could only respond to three crossing points and this is why we took the decision.”

Furthermore, Ioannou said that so far, the Institute of Neurology and Genetics has carried out examinations on 49 people with no positive results so far.

Responding to a question on thermal imaging cameras, Ioannou said two devices have been installed at the island’s airports, noting that the Ministry wants to obtain 10 cameras to be installed at the crossings.

But he said the process is stalled as experts say thermal imaging cameras in open spaces have a large margin for error and the Ministry will clarify the issue before ordering additional cameras.

He also noted that due to global overdemand, the cameras could not be delivered before April 10.