COVID19: Cypriots under quarantine slam facilities

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Cypriots who arrived in Cyprus after Monday’s travel restriction and quarantined in the Troodos mountains have slammed conditions at the facilities as ‘unacceptable’ and “inhumane”.

Some 75 passengers arriving after a travel ban on incoming flights to Cyprus imposed from Monday where entry requires a health certificate and automatic 14-day quarantine at state facilities in Troodos.

These passengers – including 30 Cypriot students – did not have a health certificate and demanded they be allowed entry.

They were sent to several designated facilities in Troodos including the Presidential retreat.

Aristos Aristidou who arrived at Paphos airport from Gatwick on Monday night noted that they were taken from the airport by bus without being told where they were being taken.

“We are in quarantine, not in prison, no one seems to be prepared for the situation here.”

As an elderly person also suffering from diabetes, he does not have access to medication.

Some 41 passengers, including six students, who arrived from the UK on two EasyJet flights from Manchester and Gatwick were immediately transferred to a worker’s union camping facility which has been modified for quarantine purposes.

Aristidou said that there are four people sharing the same room.

‘Lepers abandoned’

A second person in quarantine, a student called Anthi Nicolaou, who arrived from the UK, also spoke of the poor sanitary conditions.

She was disappointed and felt abandoned at the facility.

“We feel like lepers…dumped here…I asked them how we are to wash the sheets given to us. They said they will not be washing them.”

She said the authorities have not even checked them and there was no soap for them to wash.

Christos Nai also talking to CyBC, said that they were treated like criminals from the moment the plane landed with police pushing them, telling them lucky that they even let them off the plane.

Andreas Georgiou also quarantined at the same facility said the health certificate requested by the government is not issued by any organisation anywhere.

Experts have pointed out that quarantine means keeping individuals apart in a confined space, isolation means no contact with other people.

The Health Ministry, in preparation for more potential arrivals to the quarantine facilities in Troodos, has confirmed it is in talks with hotels in the area, currently empty, that might be asked to keep patients isolated in their rooms.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, the Transport Ministry’s spokesperson said the authorities will be sending passengers without the health certificate back to the country of origin.

However, as he noted most flights coming to Cyprus are empty.

He said that airliners flying12 out of 24 flights on Tuesday, informed authorities that no passengers were on board.

“What happened on Monday, when citizens were allowed in without a health certificate, was a one-off. If they do not have a certificate, they will be sent back.  All other passengers allowed in will be quarantined.”

People are now only allowed in upon presentation of a health certificate to proving they do not have the coronavirus, and then will be quarantined for 14 days.

Meanwhile, the CyBC journalist and the cameraman who interviewed the passengers under quarantine, have been ordered by authorities to self-isolate themselves.

Reportedly, the crews of two other TV stations who have also interviewed people in quarantine were given the same instructions.