While new daily coronavirus cases continue to drop in the Republic of Cyprus, Turkish Cypriot authorities are having a hard time to put the lid back on infections in the north, as some 144 new cases have been reported since the beginning of September.
On Tuesday, Turkish Cypriot authorities reported a record 38 new cases, the highest number of coronavirus infections since the outbreak in March.
The new COVID-19 cases reported in the north between September 1 and 8 have taken the total to 475 with authorities announcing a record 26 new cases both on Monday and last Saturday.
Divided Cyprus is now just shy of 2,000 cases as the island-wide count stand at 1986 cases and 26 deaths.
More alarming, out of the 38 cases reported in the north on Tuesday, only four were imported, while the rest were locally infected, with authorities tracing the source of infection for 19 of the cases.
Among the people tested positive for COVID-19, is a member of the Turkish Assembly for Nicosia and the extreme right-wing party Rebirth (Yeniden Dogus), Bertan Zaroglu, who announced he tested positive on Tuesday.
Out of the 38 cases, ten were in Kyrenia.
Authorities in the north are just as worried as the virus is appearing in specific clusters in the villages of Lysi (Akdogan), Vatili and Sinta (Inonu) in occupied Famagusta.
Authorities have tightened restriction in the three villages, banning all social gatherings and events for a period of two weeks, starting Monday.
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot authorities on Tuesday reinstated a partial lockdown to control the coronavirus pandemic in the occupied north until October 1.
With the exception of first- and second-year elementary pupils, the rest of the students are to return to class on October 1.
Nightclubs, discos, children’s playgrounds and parks are to close with authorities in the north placing a ban on mass social events, such as weddings.
Turkish Cypriot authorities have been criticised by the opposition and experts for their decision to allow people from high-risk countries, including Turkey, to enter the north without first being quarantined.
Following the spike, the authorities decided to impose a 7-day quarantine on people arriving in the north from countries in Category B and a 14-day quarantine from Category C.
According to comments made by the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot ruling coalition, some 333 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.
Turkey reported 1,761 new cases and 52 more deaths on Monday.
Before opening up ports of entry, the north had seen a 75-day lull reporting zero cases since April 17.