COVID19: UN peacekeeping reports first Cyprus case

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The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) on Friday confirmed its first case of coronavirus among its Blue Berets monitoring the divided island’s ceasefire line.

“The patient reported mild symptoms and was isolated immediately after testing positive for COVID-19,” a UN statement said.

“The individual is now being closely monitored by medical staff and the mission is conducting a robust process of contact tracing to prevent the further spread of the virus,” it added.

UNFICYP is one of the longest-running UN Peacekeeping missions.

It was created in 1964 to prevent further fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the island and bring about a return to normal conditions.

UNFICYP said it is working closely with the authorities to ensure that all relevant protocols to prevent and mitigate the risk of COVID-19 are strictly adhered to.

“In line with the directives of the Secretary-General and the measures introduced by the national authorities, all UNFICYP civilian staff have been instructed, since mid-March, to telecommute from home.”

Since 4 April, the Secretary-General has suspended the rotation and deployments of all uniformed personnel across all UN peace operations until 30 June.

“From the earliest manifestation of the outbreak in Cyprus, UNFICYP put strict measures in place to safeguard personnel and the wider community, the mission has stepped up these measures to ensure continuity of operations and prevent the spread of the virus.”

UNFICYP said it stands in “solidarity with people across the island during these challenging times”.

“It will continue its contributions to peace and stability in Cyprus to the utmost of the mission’s capabilities.”

The UN Mission is based on four components: the military, UN Police (UNPOL), the Civil Affairs Branch and Administration with almost 1100 personnel.

Major troop-contributing countries include Britain (278), Argentina (239), Slovakia (141), Hungary (65) and Serbian(45).