COVID19: Virus spread in Turkish Cypriot community subsides

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Turkish Cypriot health authorities reported a significant drop to four new COVID-19 cases on Monday after a roller-coaster three weeks of double-digit infections, which peaked on September 8 when a total of 38 new cases were announced.

Monday’s four cases, following Sunday’s six, were the lowest this month and were discovered from 1,485 tests, with the total in the north now at 704 cases.

The course of the virus in the north is now comparable to that in the south of the island, after almost a month of being in stark contrast with that of the Republic of Cyprus which had kept coronavirus cases lower.

In September, the Republic reported a much lower 115 cases (the total stands at 1,603 since the outbreak), while Turkish Cypriot authorities reported some 373 cases for the same period.

The Republic had confirmed another three new cases on Monday, despite local clusters growing in previous days.

Divided Cyprus now has a total of 2,307 coronavirus cases and 26 deaths.

Authorities in the Turkish occupied north were betting on a number of restrictions on free movement reintroduced to bring numbers down. Earlier this month, they had imposed travel restrictions and lockdown measures following a resurgence of the virus.

A four-day lockdown of Tymbou airport was followed by a travel ban on foreign nationals.

According to an official count in the north, 596 cases were reported since July 1 when the north opened its ports of entry to travellers, arriving mainly from coronavirus-struck Turkey.

Turkey reported another 1,743 new COVID-19 cases and 68 deaths on Monday.

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

Fines were introduced for violating quarantine measures, not wearing a mask in crowded places or not keeping social distancing rules.

Fines range from €40 for not wearing a mask to €2000 for breaking quarantine laws. The minimum wage in the north is around €405.