COVID19: Cyprus contains cases, Turkish Cypriots close airport

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The Republic of Cyprus has succeeded in keeping daily COVID-19 cases down to a minimum while Turkish Cypriots across the divide have shutdown ports due to a spike in infections.

While the Health Ministry on Wednesday reported just three new infections, cases have skyrocketed in the Turkish occupied north, leading authorities there to temporarily close the airport.

Wednesday’s three cases involved two imported and just one local infection as daily cases have been kept in single-digit figures for 12 consecutive days.

One of the two imported cases involves a Syrian migrant who arrived on the island on 5 September from Turkey via the north.

The second case involves a Filipino man who came to Cyprus to work onboard a ship owned by a Cyprus-based shipping company.

He had symptoms when he arrived on 4 September and was tested two days later.

The other case was found at a state hospital microbiological lab and involves a Cypriot woman with symptoms.

Wednesday’s results were reported after an unusually low number of 2,251 tests were carried out, bringing the Republic’s COVID-19 total to 1,514.

No positive tests came back from 1,063 samples taken from airport passenger arrivals and Cypriots returning to the island.

Similarly, no positive cases were found among some 206 tests carried out on contacts of known cases, or some 128 tests on teachers and school staff.

The Health Ministry said three patients are being treated at the COVID-19 reference hospital at Famagusta General, with one being transferred to the Acute Care Unit on Wednesday.

Another patient is at the Nicosia General’s ICU on a ventilator.

Meanwhile, as cases drop in the Republic, infections in the Turkish Cypriot community have spiked with 144 new cases reported between September 1-8, taking their total to 437 with authorities announcing a record 38 new cases on Tuesday.

Under pressure from the mounting cases, Turkish Cypriot authorities banned all incoming flights on Wednesday until 13 September, citing difficulties in accommodating people who had to be quarantined after arriving.

Turkish Cypriot daily YeniDuzen quoted the ruling coalition’s Kudret Ozersay saying the decision was taken because there is no more space in designated quarantine areas.

Following the spike, the authorities imposed new quarantine restrictions.

According to comments made by the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot ruling coalition, 333 cases were reported since July 1 when the north opened its ports of entry to travellers, arriving mainly from coronavirus-struck Turkey.

Passengers from Turkey have been of particular concern as the country has reported a total of 283,270 cases and 6,782 deaths, while the average number of daily cases in August was above 1400.

Before opening up ports of entry, the north had seen a 75-day lull reporting zero cases since April 17

The authorities in the north on Tuesday reinstated a partial lockdown until 1 October to control the pandemic.

With the exception of first- and second-year elementary students, the rest of the school students are to return to class on 1 October.

Nightclubs, discos, children’s playgrounds, and parks are to close with authorities in the north placing a ban on social events such as weddings.

Divided Cyprus now has 1,989 cases and 26 deaths.