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COVID19: Tests for unvaccinated tourists, children to get jab

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Unvaccinated tourists must get tested if staying over seven days, while children aged 12 to 15 can get a COVID-19 jab, the Cabinet decided Friday.

Cyprus will tighten rules on unvaccinated arrivals from abroad, obliging them to take a PCR test for COVID-19 on the seventh day of their stay, regardless their country of origin.

“Non-permanent residents entering the Republic must undergo a PCR or rapid antigen test on the seventh day after their arrival.

“People who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from Covid-19 within the last 180 days are exempt,” said Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas.

Under Cyprus’ travel guide, arrivals from countries in the COVID safe green category can enter without restrictions along with vaccinated tourists.

Hadjipantelas said as of Monday, children aged 12-15 can get vaccinated.

Children will be vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) upon the consent of their parents.

He said the decision was taken to ensure the protection of public health and “after taking into account the recommendations of the Cyprus paediatric society”.

Cyprus follows other European Union countries France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, and Greece, who are already vaccinating children aged 12 to 15.

The Cabinet also decided a Safe Pass will be required for indoor and outdoor facilities where ten or more people are present – lowered from 20 -including employees.

All visitors aged 12 and over and staff need to present a Safe Pass to enter state and private hospitals, nursing homes, and other closed structures.

A Safe Pass is proof of being vaccinated with an EU approved COVID-19 vaccine, recovering from the virus in the past six months, or a negative PCR or rapid antigen test no older than 72 hours.

Hadjipantelas said that the government had to act.

“Today, more than 80 of our fellow citizens are being treated in public hospitals in serious condition. More than 40 of our fellow citizens are in the Intensive Care Unit, a record number and too big for a small country like Cyprus”.

Delta variant

He argued that Cyprus has two obstacles to deal with – “stem the spread of the Delta variant, and people’s reluctance to get vaccinated”.

“Our motives are not political. On the contrary, we will insist on implementing the guidelines handed out by the competent authorities.

“These guidelines are the result of research carried out by the scientific community across the world.”

He said experts across the globe warn that most at risk are those who are unvaccinated.

“The only way to protect ourselves from the Delta variant and others is by completing our vaccination regimen.”

During the press briefing on Friday, Hadjipantelas initially said the free rapid testing scheme will no longer be available to the general public, but only for those who have contracted the virus or recovered within the past six months.

However, the official transcript from the Health Ministry was reworded to cover a wider section of the population.

The revised text quoted Hadjipantelas as saying the free testing scheme will no longer be available to the general public, but only for those who have contracted the virus or recovered within the past six months, those who have been vaccinated (with one or both jabs), children up to the age of 17, and adults with medical conditions who are advised against taking a vaccine.

Also eligible for free testing are pregnant women, with medical advice from a gynaecologist suggesting against the vaccination.