Medical and healthcare workers in the struggle to tackle coronavirus at Nicosia General Hospital (Photo PIO)

COVID19: Cyprus sees rise in cases among repatriates, as airports ready to re-open

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Cyprus reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, two more from the previous day, with all of the cases related to Cypriots who have recently returned from abroad, with the coronavirus cases stubbornly refusing to drop to zero.

This brings the total number of coronavirus cases in Cyprus since March to 970.

The announcement came on the eve of the island’s two main airports at Larnaca and Paphos reopening to normal passenger traffic in an effort to restart the tourist sector, the island’s biggest earner, as hotels and the leisure sector have been preparing for the arrival once again of tourists, half way what would have been the holiday season.

The Ministry of Health announced that five of the SARS-CoV-2 infections were traced from among 337 tests conducted on repatriated Cypriots.

“Their close contacts have been traced and the relevant protocols have been activated to ensure they remain isolated until their next test,” it said.

Up until last week, all arrivals from overseas, mainly repatriated Cypriots or permanent residents of Cyprus, would have been taken to local hotels to remain in quarantine for 14 days. The scheme, subsidised by the government, ended two weeks ago.

The health ministry said that the sixth case, too, was a recently repatriated Cypriot. Upon arrival and initial testing that person did not have traces of the coronavirus, but remained in isolation at home. However, on that person’s own initiative, a second test was conducted privately and the positive case emerged.

On Sunday, the number of COVID-19 cases had risen to four, from none the day before, with officials hoping that the zero level of cases would be an indication of an improving situation.

One death had been reported on Saturday, from a patient said to have underlying health issues, with no new COVID-19 cases reported, bringing the death toll to 25.

The ministry added that three patients remain in special care at the Famagusta General hospital’s coronavirus ward, one patient remains intubated at Nicosia General and one has been taken off the respirator.