COVID19: Turkish Cypriots impose tighter measures

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Turkish Cypriot authorities on Tuesday tightened COVID measures at entry points to the occupied north of the island subjecting arrivals to a seven-day quarantine, including from the crossing points.

Regardless of their country of origin, all arrivals must present a negative coronavirus test carried out in the past 72 hours and take another test before exiting their quarantine.

The development follows a slight increase in cases, as the north reported double-digit figures of new coronavirus cases with more than half of them imported.

According to Turkish Cypriot media, the new measures will be in place until the end of the year for all people arriving or crossing to the north.

People crossing to the north from the Republic must present a negative PCR test not older than 24 hours, on the condition that they will return within the next 24 hours.

If their stay is extended beyond 24 hours, they will be subject to the mandatory seven-day quarantine.

An exception is in place for those crossing through the Kato Pyrgos and Limnitis checkpoints.

They can present a negative coronavirus test not older than 72 hours while no test is required for ambulance crews passing through the specific crossing points.

Turkish Cypriots working, studying, or crossing to the Republic for medical treatment will need to present a negative test taken within 10 days, starting from Monday 7 December.

On Sunday, Turkish Cypriot health services reported another 8 new COVID-19 cases, of which six were imported.

Turkish Cypriot authorities have reported 1,108 cases out of a total of 265,000 tests.

The authorities brought the virus under control after they tightened controls on arrivals, following a resurgence in September which saw 168 cases reported due to relaxation on arrivals.

The vast majority of arrivals are from Turkey, which has reported a total of 638,847 cases and 13,746 deaths, the average number of daily cases in November was over 3,000.

On Monday, Turkey reported a record 31,219 new cases and 188 more deaths, rocketing from 7,381 on 26 November.

The spike is attributed to Turkey not counting asymptomatic cases prior to 27 November.

Ankara had only been reporting symptomatic cases since the summer, which critics said masked the true scale of the outbreak.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca unexpectedly said Ankara would begin announcing the total numbers.

“In line with requests from our people, we plan on including positive cases that do not show symptoms in the daily table,” he said, adding that around 80% of people who test positive were asymptomatic or slightly symptomatic.

Since opening its airport on 1 July, the north has seen 880 cases recorded out of a total of 1,108 since the outbreak began.

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

Divided Cyprus has reported 11,673 cases.

The Republic’s health authorities confirmed 10,565 infections following a resurgence of the virus which saw 6,157, recorded in November, more than half of all recorded cases since the outbreak in March.

There is an island-wide curfew in the Republic between 9 pm to 5 am, restaurants close at 7 pm and a number of restrictions on household and public gatherings.