Worried about the social and economic impact of telling thousands of people who have travelled from Greece and the UK to self-isolate, Cypriot authorities made a quick U-turn on Tuesday changing the advice to self-monitoring.
It seems the coronavirus helpline crashed after being inundated with calls – following the new guidelines – from worried travellers who have recently returned from a trip from two countries where Cypriots travel most to.
While the self-monitoring obligation also jeopardised the UK Royal visit of Prince Charles and Camilla on March 18-21.
Cyprus’ Health Ministry on Tuesday issued revised self-isolation instructions for people who do not have any symptoms but have travelled to the UK and Greece where is an outbreak of COVID-19.
The Health Ministry revised its instructions to the travelling public after Cyprus saw its first two coronavirus cases on Monday and Italy being put under complete lockdown to stop coronavirus spreading.
Authorities later had a change of mind and downgraded Britain and most of Greece to category 3 down from their category 2 status. No explanation was given for the decision.
All travellers in category 1 and 2 will be screened on arrival at Cyprus airports.
The ministry urges passengers coming from the following countries in the past 14 days to follow the instructions below:
All passengers who have lived or travelled to the below countries/ areas must go into isolation under medical supervision.
- Hubei province in China
- South Korea
All passengers who have lived or travelled to the below countries/ areas must self-isolate at home for 14 days (restrict close contact and movement, keep basic rules of hygiene and monitor and report symptoms).
- Rest of China (excluding district of Hubei)
- Hong Kong
- Greece (prefectures of Achaia, Ilias, Zakynthos)
All passengers who have lived or travelled to the above countries/ areas must self-monitor without any restrictions to their movements and in the event of any symptoms must remain at home and contact 1420 giving their recent travel history.
– United Kingdom
The Health Ministry advises the public to adhere to instructions on personal hygiene and take precautions.
If they have any symptoms which suggest a respiratory infection, they must IMMEDIATELY call the ambulance service at 1420.
The public should only call 1420 to report symptoms and not ask for general information.