Cyprus has decided to ban entry to people arriving from India in a bid to keep the more contagious COVID-19 Delta variant of the coronavirus from entering the island, with those exempted having to self-isolate.
A handful of the new variant cases, first detected in India, which has become the dominant variant in the UK, has health authorities on their toes.
The Health Ministry fears the introduction of the new variant could overturn the island’s epidemiological improvement.
According to a decree issued unexpectantly on Monday, Cyprus is banning entry to all arrivals to the island who have spent time in India in the past 14 days.
It excludes Cypriot nationals, EU citizens, and third country nationals who are legally entitled to enter the country, on condition they carry a negative coronavirus PCR test or undergo one on arrival.
Arrivals will then be taken to a state-designated quarantine centre where they will be instructed to remain for ten days, released only upon a negative PCR test.
Health Ministry press officer Margarita Kyriacou said the ban excludes any passenger who has been vaccinated against COVID-19 with any of the EMA approved vaccines (AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen), Russia’s Sputnik V and the Chinese Sinovac.
Cyprus has detected six cases of the Indian variant in people arriving from abroad, with no reports of it being found among the community.
Until recently, health authorities had no indication if the Indian COVID-19 variant had contributed in any way to the spread of coronavirus.
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou had said there was a chance the Indian or South African mutations detected on the island in April might spread into the community, arguing vaccinations were the only way to stop the spread of “aggressive variants.”
Scientists now argue that inoculation coverage to shield the population from COVID-19 in case a variant of concern prevails needs to increase to 85% from a previously estimated 70%.