COVID19: Cyprus entering ‘uncharted waters’

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There is no magic COVID-19 recipe for the transition out of lockdown with Cyprus entering “uncharted waters” as the economy opens up, said Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou.

He told that just like all the other countries, Cyprus is stepping into the unknown and will take decisions as the situation unfolds locally.

The ministry’s scientific team, believe the number of COVID-19 cases is sufficiently low to allow for optimism on the way forward.

“This was, among other things, a factor which contributed to (deciding) the gradual reopening of society and the economy…expecting zero cases would be utopic.”

Ioannou said it is taken for granted that the “virus will be with us for a long time to come, or at least until the medical community develops a vaccine or other treatment.”

“Taking this into account…we must continue the effort to keep Cyprus at the bottom of the cases map and first on the diagnostic tests map.”

He said a rise in coronavirus cases is “inevitable” after the easing of measures but the goal continues to be in keeping the number at low levels.

“From the very beginning, Cyprus implemented the process of tracking down contacts of confirmed cases and a continued testing procedure, a practice which according to the WHO and ECDC is effective in limiting transmission.”

Ioannou said the government moved quickly with the lockdown and social distancing measures, noticeably reducing the rate of transmission of the virus, this led to the gradual lifting of restrictions quite early.

President Nicos Anastasiades has already outlined a four-phase roadmap based on the scientific team’s recommendations.

“This procedure will take time, it cannot take place in a hurry, but rather in a targeted and careful manner.”

“All steps need correct planning and systematic monitoring on the part of the government, so that they are effective, allowing us to feel safe and certain that we reacted in the proper way.”

“It is too early to say that we are or feel safe.”

Referring to Monday’s easing of measures, Ioannou said that based on the information available to him it went generally smoothly.

The majority of businesses which resumed operations followed health and prevention measures, small problems were recorded at construction sites but it had more to do with not been informed rather than disobeying the rules.