COVID19: Cyprus prepared for new outbreak

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Cyprus Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said the government is prepared to address a possible new COVID-19 outbreak to ensure it has minimum impact on patients and the healthcare system.

“We are proud of what we have achieved so far in containing the pandemic,” Ioannou told a Rotary Club of Nicosia-Lefkothea event.

“We could certainly do better in addressing specific issues, but we should always take into consideration that no country globally had the means or the knowledge to deal with the pandemic at its early stages,” he added.

He said success in dealing with this pandemic was down to “strong political commitment to take robust and proactive measures” in line with the science.

“All these measures gave us time to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Fortunately, the early tracing of the cases and their isolation prevented the spread of the virus in the community and allowed our healthcare system to address the situation with the minimum possible losses.

Cyprus is acknowledged as a success story in the fight against coronavirus with a low mortality and transmission rate plus systematic testing.

Since the first two cases of COVID-19 were identified on March 9 there have been 1,040 cases reported with only 19 deaths.

Nearly 85% of these cases (approximately 850) have recovered while no patient has been hospitalised in an ICU unit since 19 June.

“We plan with a sense of guarded optimism keeping in mind that COVID-19 is a new highly transmissible infection in a population with low immunity.”

Ioannou said tackling the pandemic was a war against an “invisible enemy”.

“There was no successful action plan to base our policies on and, therefore, we had to be flexible to adjust our strategy at all times.”

“What happened in many other countries, far more advanced and with better healthcare systems than Cyprus, was not an option for us.”

He dismissed criticism the government received for being overly strict and unfair with lockdown measures.

“I have no regrets, even now, on how we addressed this health crisis and the measures we imposed.”

“We need to be in line with other countries and we have to remain prepared in view of a new outbreak…I would like to reaffirm the Government’s readiness to address a new outbreak.”

The minister said Nicosia was monitoring developments worldwide to update its strategy to safeguard public health.