COVID-19: Cyprus begins mass testing frontline workers

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Cyprus has started testing healthcare professionals in a scheme to check 20,000 frontline workers in a bid to contain the coronavirus.

A total of 276 COVID-19 tests for coronavirus were conducted on Sunday among health professionals and personnel working at Nicosia and Larnaca General hospitals, spokesperson of the State Health Services Organisation (SHSO), Pambos Harilaou told CNA.

In total, authorities plan to conduct 6,500 tests among health professionals, as part of the measures to counter the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tests of health professionals are part of the 20,000 tests the government announced for public and private sector employees.

Harilaou said samples will be taken from all personnel working in public hospitals without exception.

So far, samples were taken from 249 people working at Nicosia General Hospital and 27 people at Larnaca General Hospital. Two hospitals that have seen medical staff infected with COVID-19.

Harilaou also said that they will take 600 samples per day, in line with the capacity of a private lab and the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics conducting the tests.

The procedure will be completed in 10 days.

Health Ministry press officer Margarita Kyriacou told CNA that all private laboratories started on Monday taking samples for the 20,000 tests to be conducted among employees working in the public and private sector, as well as in the police and the National Guard.

Some laboratories started taking samples on Saturday and according to the results announced, one person was found positive to COVID-19 among a total of 148 tests.

All 20,000 tests will be completed within 20 days, with results for each sample taken, ready within 48 hours.

In line with the decree issued on April 8, by the Health Minister, tests will be conducted among personnel that are allowed to continue to work outside of the home.

Priority is given to those serving in the National Guard, Police, Fire Brigade, banks, post offices, petrol stations, supermarkets, kiosks, bakeries and similar services.