COVID19: January deadliest month for Turkish Cypriots

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While the Republic is struggling to keep the pandemic in check, authorities in the Turkish occupied north also have their hands full as January is already the deadliest month on record.

With just 11 days gone, January has seen four people die in the north to COVID-19, as a direct result of cases spiralling to a record 449 in December.

The latest deaths were elderly people aged between 77 and 81 with underlying health problems.

So far this month, Turkish Cypriot health authorities have reported 226 cases with January on its way to becoming the worst month for new COVID-19 infections.

Authorities in the north announced another 21 cases of SARS-CoV-2 on Monday, raising the total to 1,800 and 10 deaths.

On the other side of the divide, health authorities of the Republic of Cyprus are seeing cases drop to less than a third of the record 907 cases reported on 29 December.

A record 12,086 cases were recorded in December and 76 of the 153 COVID-19 deaths occurring in that month alone.

After almost three-months of cases in the hundreds, the Republic has reported 27,638 cases and 153 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in March, cases appear to be dropping.

On Monday, there were 288 cases, but five more deaths of COVID-19 patients.

The lower number of cases is partially attributed to fewer tests, which have dropped to around 12,000 from some 20,000 a day carried out in previous weeks.

In January so far, health services have reported 4,987 and 23 deaths.

Divided Cyprus has now reported 29,438 COVID-19 cases and 163 deaths since the pandemic started.

Chinese vaccine

Turkish Cypriot authorities and scientists are placing their money on COVID-19 vaccines, however, there is no clear indication as to when the first batch of vaccines is to arrive.

According to the head of the health services, Ali Pilli, Turkish Cypriots will receive 500,000 vaccines from Turkey.

The north will be primarily using vaccines made by Chinese pharmaceutical Sinovac, a vaccine yet to be approved by the EU, but has been reported to have an efficacy of 78% against the coronavirus.

It will also receive a batch of vaccines from the EU, through the Republic of Cyprus.

Pilli has said that Turkish Cypriot authorities expect a batch of 400,000 doses from the European Union through the Republic of Cyprus.

President Nicos Anastasiades confirmed last week that his government is arranging to cover the entire population of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots, and Turkish Cypriots.

Pilli had said vaccinations in the north would begin on the same day as Turkey, that is on the 15 January with the aim to vaccinate 60% of the north’s population by the end of February.

The north’s vaccination program is to start from the eldest working its way down to the youngest.

According to data given by Pilli, there are 331,000 people in the age group of 0 to 59, 29,000 in the age group 60 to 70, 15,000 between 71 and 80, 5,000 over 80, and another 873 people who are over 90.

Authorities in the north lifted a night-time curfew but kept other restrictions in place including a ban on nightclubs and other entertainment venues with restaurants, cafes, betting shops and beauty parlours closing at 10 pm.

People entering the north, in addition to presenting a negative PCR test valid for up to 72 hours, must also quarantine for 10 days.