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COVID19: Cyprus reports first case after five-day lull

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

Cyprus reported its first case of SARS-CoV-2 infections on Sunday, ending a five-day streak of no cases, with the Healthy Ministry saying the solitary infection was traced among tests on people returning to work after lockdown measures were eased.

The ministry said that the single coronavirus case was discovered from 55 tests as part of an ongoing national campaign among 10,000 people who returned to work in the second and third phase of easing pandemic lockdown measures.

It did not specify which sector the positive case arose from, but Antena TV reported it was a hotel worker in Paphos.

The total number of COVID-19 infections in the Republic rose to 986, with the number of coronavirus-related deaths at 19 to date.

There is growing concern that the previous streak of no cases, bringing the total of non-coronavirus days to ten, was adding to the complacency among the general public, with more people breaking the distancing and safety mask rules, while enterprises anxious to return to business are not implementing the regulations that limit the number of people congregating at such venues.

The police said earlier on Sunday that a bar owner in Larnaca was fined €4,000 for breaking the emergency health regulations and allowing 355 patrons, instead of the state-imposed cap of 150. On Saturday, the police also reported 13 clubs and pubs in Paphos, handing them smaller fines.

This follows the high profile case of a club in the holiday resort of Protaras that opened for business on the first day after lockdown measures were lifted, but reportedly got away with a slap-on-the-wrist fine due to connections to politicians and the seeming reluctance of the police to impose harsher penalties.

Sunday also saw the reopening of crossings into the Turkish occupied areas after three months, following an agreement reached between President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, with those crossing carrying the necessary medical report of an ‘all clear’ test within the last 72 hours.

In all, five foreign nationals stuck in curfew in the north crossed over in order to continue their journey home, as did 39 Turkish Cypriots, while another 29 Turkish Cypriots returned to the north, as did one Bulgarian national.

Most crossing were allowed to open, apart from the pedestrian checkpoint at the end of Ledra street, and most people came through the Ayios Dhometios checkpoint, used only by vehicles.

Meanwhile, Sunday also saw the second phase of flights at Larnaca and Paphos airports from and to a wider range of countries considered as low-risk by the national epidemiological advisory body.

In all, the health ministry said 297 tests were conducted on 1,304 passenger arriving on 11 flights on Saturday, adding that a further 300 tests were to be conducted on Sunday’s arrivals.