Cyprus on Wednesday started enforcing emergency measures introduced to limit the spread of coronavirus by banning mass gatherings, closing schools while the country’s two largest state hospitals were in lockdown.
Following news that Cyprus had its first two coronavirus cases, with one being the 64-year-old head of cardio surgery at Nicosia General Hospital, the island’s largest hospital went into lockdown.
Following the shutdown of Nicosia General Hospital, the island’s second-largest state hospital, Limassol General Hospital also suspended operations on Wednesday for 48 hours.
Despite a suspect case being reported at the Limassol hospital, officials say the lockdown “has nothing to do with it”.
“Hospital activities were curtailed – so the health system was not overloaded and able to respond effectively in the event of an outbreak,” said Okypy state health services spokesperson Pampos Charilaou.
He said operation of the hospital was suspended for 48 hours as a precautionary measure.
Nicosia General has gone into deep clean while all admissions, outpatient clinics, surgeries and patient visitations are suspended until Thursday when the situation would be reviewed.
The operation of the cardiology ward is also suspended, and patients are gradually being discharged or sent to the private sector, depending on their general health condition, the ministry said.
All scheduled outpatient appointments, admissions, and surgeries across the board have been cancelled at Nicosia and Limassol.
33 nurses and 5 doctors in self-isolation
Meanwhile, 33 nurses and five doctors have self-isolated after coming into contact with the Nicosia hospital heart surgeon diagnosed with the disease, despite being tested negative for the virus.
Cyprus Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said a total of 185 tests from people who had contact with the two confirmed cases, have come back negative.
Checkpoints across the island’s divide remain shuttered until March 18.
Public events, parades and concerts are cancelled until the end of the month while football matches must be played behind closed doors until March 31.
“All mass events, gatherings, concerts, parades in public places including football and other games are cancelled,” Ioannou told reporters after a four-hour cabinet meeting on coronavirus on Tuesday.
Gatherings of more than 75 people in a confined space are also banned under the emergency measures – including church congregations which are usually bolstered in the run-up to Greek Orthodox Easter.
All schools in the capital Nicosia are closed for three days as a precaution. These include all public and private nurseries, elementary and high schools, as well as tutorial institutes.
The University of Cyprus also decided to shut for two weeks as eight medical faculty students came into contact with the heart surgeon.
The three private universities, University of Nicosia, European University of Cyprus and Frederick University issued a joint statement saying they, too, will close from Wednesday to Sunday.