COVID19: Negative test for jabbed to be scrapped at crossings

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Vaccinated Cypriots will soon be allowed to cross from the Republic to the Turkish occupied north without having to take a coronavirus test beforehand, according to Turkish Cypriot officials.

Turkish Cypriot health official Deren Oygar said the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Health would be evaluating data.

Under a colour-coded scheme, green means no restrictions; Orange, a 7-day negative Antigen or PCR test, is required with dark red signalling the crossings are closed to the general public.

Currently, the orange level means that all crossers need to carry a negative test, but this is to change.

The committee meets on Thursday, with Oygar noting that if epidemiological data on both sides does not worsen, then vaccinated people will be allowed to cross without restrictions.

Oygar said the number of daily new COVID-19 cases reported on both sides of the divide is declining.

However, no change is expected for the unvaccinated, who will still have to prove a negative test taken within three days.

The policy change could come into effect as soon as September 27.

Meanwhile, health authorities in the north plan to return 40,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, arguing that the expiry date – 30 October – will not allow for timely administration.

The European Union delivered the vaccine batches through the Republic, early August, with AstraZeneca instructing that doses are administrated eight to twelve weeks apart.

Noting the vaccine has good coverage against the Delta mutation, Oygar said there was no demand from people in the north.

She said the AZ vaccines could have been used for international students; however, they will not be able to use them, as students arrive in late September.

According to Oygar, 13,000-14,000 AstraZeneca shots have been administered out of 431,232 vaccinations.

Some 218,479 people, or 57.19% of the population, has received at least one dose, while 212,753 (55.69%) are fully jabbed.

Turkish Cypriot health authorities on Monday reported another 76 cases and one more death.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Turkish Cypriots have reported 18,798 cases and 75 deaths.

The Republic on Monday reported 156 new COVID-19 cases and one death, taking the total to 119,113 infections and 548 deaths.

Divided Cyprus combined has reported 137,911 cases and 623 deaths.