COVID19: Experts consider new measures for Limassol, to reclassify Greek islands

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Concerned over a COVID-19 cluster forming in Limassol, the government of Cyprus is considering to reintroduce a set of restrictive measures to stem the spread of the virus in the city and the rest of island.

An upsurge in Cyprus coronavirus cases in the past few days, with the majority being traced in Limassol, combined with an increase of cases in several areas in Greece, have epidemiologists ready to propose a new set of restrictions to stem the further spread of the virus.

According to a health ministry source, since July 13, Limassol has recorded 22 cases, with a number of these connected to the Limassol Marina. Four out of Tuesday’s seven cases were also in Limassol.

The epidemiological committee advising the government on handling the coronavirus outbreak is to propose a number of measures during a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday, which will be announced after the meeting by Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou.

In comments on ANT1 TV on Wednesday, Dr Leontios Kostrikis, a member of the national epidemiology team, said that measures will be focussed on the city of Limassol.

Commenting on possible measures, Dr. Kostrikis, a University of Cyprus professor, said that a “lockdown scenario does not seem plausible at the moment, without that meaning that such a measure will not be tabled if cases continue to rise at the same pace”.

Kostrikis said that it is important for health authorities to identify the epicentre of infections in Limassol. He explained that the epidemiological picture of the city needs to be clarified in order to have a realistic assessment of the extent of the problem.

The epidemiologist said that one of the measures to be introduced is a scheme of 3,000 free tests to be conducted on the employees of the port town’s busiest venues.

Meanwhile, Kostrikis said that epidemiologists are particularly concerned over the rise in coronavirus cases in Greece, stressing that health authorities should be testing Cypriots returning from holidays, especially from the Greek islands.

He said that during the meeting at the Presidential Palace on Friday, he will suggest to place certain areas of Greece, including the Aegean islands, in the category B list of destinations.

Kostrikis added that Greece welcomes tourists from countries that Cyprus has placed in category B.

“This means that these tourists enter Greece without carrying a negative coronavirus test, which is likely to cause problems for Cyprus,” he said.

Cyprus on Tuesday reported a total of seven new coronavirus cases, with four of them being traced in Limassol.

After initially declaring three infections on Tuesday evening, Cyprus confirmed an additional four coronavirus cases due to late test results returning from the labs.

Two of the new coronavirus cases involve individuals who were in close contact with a known case found on 24 July in Limassol.

The ministry said that the other two cases involved people who were tested at the Limassol general hospital’s microbiological laboratory.

With Tuesday’s late results the total number of tests conducted during the day rose to 1,067.

Health officials had earlier reported three new confirmed COVID-19 cases from some 1,974 tests. They did not clarify how many results were sent in later in the day.

The initial three involved a Bulgarian citizen, who arrived on Monday and tested at the airport, and another two who had privately tested. One of the two had recently returned from the US, was instructed to self-isolate but disobeyed and went for an outing with a friend who also tested positive.