Pandemic Chronicles: From zero cases in May to hundreds in December

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The pandemic in Cyprus in 2020 can be generally divided into four stages.

The first was its “import” to Cyprus in March, the second its spreading and the lockdown, the third the almost total absence of the virus in May followed by a relatively “clean” Summer.

Then its resurgence in the Autumn leading to an unprecedented number of COVID-19 cases and deaths.

First two cases

The COVID-19 pandemic first appeared in Cyprus on March 9, 2020. On that day, Minister of Health Constantinos Ioannou announced the two cases, both Cypriots, a 25-year-old who had returned from Milan and a 64-year-old doctor who had returned from England who failed to report his symptoms.

Tracing did not produce any more positive cases while the Nicosia General Hospital closed down for 48 hours.

First restrictions

On March 11, four more cases were recorded. The Minister of Health issued his first decree forbidding gatherings of over 75 people in theatres, cinemas, restaurants, cafeterias, bars, ice cream parlours, and event halls, until March 31.

Meanwhile, the cases among medical staff increased.

On March 13, President Nicos Anastasiades in a televised address to the nation announced further measures at entry and crossing points and schools closed.

On March 14, flight cancellations began and from March 16 till April 30 only people with a coronavirus- free medical certificate could enter the Republic. Passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports were quarantined for a fortnight.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued travel advice against all trips abroad.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II called on the faithful to avoid going to church until April 10.

On March 21, a decree issued by the Ministry of Transport came into effect, banning flights for a fortnight.

First death

On March 21, the first death of a coronavirus patient, at the Paphos General Hospital, was announced. The patient had underlying health issues.

Hotels opened for repatriated Cypriots who had been stranded abroad due to the pandemic.

On March 23, President Anastasiades announced a general lockdown from March 24 till April 13.

On March 26, the Cabinet approved a bill imposing fines of €150 on those violating the measures.

On March 27, Cyprus sent Israel a quantity of Chloroquine and Israel sent Cyprus 50 ventilators.

On March 30, the Minister of Health announced stricter measures on movement during the lockdown, an increase of the fine to €300, and a curfew from 2100 to 0600.

On March 31, medical equipment to fight the pandemic arrived from China.

Reference Hospital

On March 31, the Reference Hospital opened with additional doctors and nurses.

On April 2, the Minister of Transport extended the decree on flight bans for a further two weeks, while the Ministry of Health bought services at a rehabilitation centre in Tersefanou to receive COVID-19 patients with mild or no symptoms.

It also increased tests in Aradippou and Paphos, where a spike in cases was determined.

On April 4, medical equipment and consumables were received from China for use in public hospitals.

By April 7, a total of 493 cases and 14 deaths had been reported.

On April 8, President Anastasiades announced the extension of the measures until April 30.

On April 10, the first targeted testing of public and private sector employees was announced, along with random tests for the general public.

On April 24, the flight ban was extended until May 17.

By April 28, 836 cases and 20 deaths had been reported.

Easing of restrictions

On May 4, Cyprus entered the first phase of easing restrictions.

By May 5, 878 cases and 21 deaths had been reported, on May 12, there were 904 cases and 23 deaths.

On May 18, only one confirmed case was announced in Cyprus.

On May 19, the Cabinet decided to activate the second phase of easing restrictions.

On May 21, all schools reopened with 923 cases and 24 deaths recorded.

Meanwhile, flight bans were extended to May 28.

On May 22, the Cabinet decided to lift the flight ban for two groups of countries as of June 9 and the opening of hotels as of June 1.

The slowdown

On May 27, no cases were reported. The cases during the Summer months were zero or very few.

On June 5, Cyprus entered the third phase of easing restrictions.

On June 7, the Ministry of Health announced precautionary measures to be observed in places of worship.

On June 9, the airports reopened under new regulations.

On September 14, in unprecedented conditions, over 107,000 students returned to school.

On October 2, the Ministry of Health issued additional measures after cases were found among football players.

Resurgence and vaccines

On October 12, the Ministry of Health decided additional emergency measures for Limassol and Nicosia, due to the increase of COVID-19 cases.

On October 22, the Cabinet increased measures and imposed a partial lockdown on Limassol and Paphos, after a spike in cases.

On November 11, rapid tests were introduced.

On November 30, the Cabinet decided measures for an islandwide curfew from 2100 till 0500 and imposed a 1900 closing time on restaurants and cafeterias.

On December 19, two special fridges were received to hold the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines.

On December 26, the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were received.

On December 27, the first vaccinations began in nursing homes and the Reference Hospital.

President Anastasiades was vaccinated on December 28 and Archbishop Chrysostomos II on December 29.

On December 28, the Minister of Health said the health system was under tremendous pressure due to a large number of inpatients. On that day, a record number of 751 cases was announced.

On December 29, the Ministry of Health issued a decree forbidding the presence of people in houses other than their permanent residents until January 10, 2021, except for New Year’s Eve, when only 10 persons from a maximum of two families are allowed.

Working from home was imposed for the public sector and strongly advised for the private sector. A new record of 907 cases was announced.

By December 29, a total of 117 persons in Cyprus had died of the coronavirus, while cases skyrocketed to 21,315. (source CNA)