COVID19: Akinci sounds caution over north reopening to Turkey

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Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci urged scientists to “think loud and clear” while expressing their views on the coronavirus situation in neighbouring Turkey, ahead of reopening ports in the occupied north of Cyprus.

Turkey is included in the list of countries from which the Turkish Cypriot authorities announced they would start receiving passengers on 1 July.

On the same date, people from the Cyprus Republic will also be able to cross to the north, on the condition they have tested negative for COVID-19, 72 hours prior.

Noting that Turkish experts are openly expressing their concerns over the rising cases of coronavirus in their country, Akinci said scientists in the north should also be voicing their concerns.

“Are our scientists not worried about 1 July?” Akinci said in a written statement posted on a Facebook page set up by his office.

He argued that while it appeared that Turkish authorities had started to get a grip on the virus, with new daily cases dropping to under 900, infections shot back up to 1,562 within a week.

“We are going through a period in which it is important and mandatory for health professionals to express their views publicly and strongly as we expect them to guide politicians on the right path,” Akinci said.

He noted that “connectivity and communication with Turkey are crucial” but argued that “above all, it is important to protect public health”.

Meanwhile, a small number of Turkish Cypriots working in the Republic were allowed to cross last week after a joint agreement between Akinci and President Nicos Anastasiades on May 21 for the gradual reopening of checkpoints.

However, Turkish Cypriots who crossed to the south were told that they will not be allowed back to the north without being quarantined for 14 days.

The ruling coalition in the north was looking into allowing Turkish Cypriots working in the south to cross daily as of 22 June, on the condition they take a coronavirus test.

Turkish Cypriot authorities have reported no new cases of COVID-19 since 17 April.