COVID19: Divided Cyprus racks up over 2,000 cases

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With Turkish Cypriot authorities reporting a spike of 163 cases since the beginning of September, divided Cyprus has recorded more than 2,000 COVID-19 infections.

On Wednesday, Turkish Cypriot authorities reported 19 new cases following Tuesday’s 38, the highest number of coronavirus infections since the outbreak in March.

The new COVID-19 cases take the total to 494 in the north and islandwide 2,008 and 26 deaths.

More alarming, out of the 19 cases reported in the north on Wednesday, only three were imported, while the rest were locally transmitted.

Turkish Cypriot authorities have banned incoming flights until 13 September, citing that they do not have the capacity to quarantine all arrivals.

Some 352 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 284,943 cases and 6,837 deaths, while the average number of daily cases in August was above 1400.

Turkey reported 1,673 new cases and 55 more deaths on Monday.

Since opening the airport on 1 July, the north has seen 352 cases recorded out of a total of 494 since the outbreak began.

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

Turkish Cypriot authorities have 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.

The ruling coalition is under mounting pressure, as unions have called for a one-day strike demanding it steps up measures to stem the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriots will go to the ballots to elect their next leader on Sunday 11 October.

The elections for the next Turkish Cypriot leader were originally scheduled to take place on 26 April, but they were postponed for six months due to the coronavirus pandemic.