Another 30 people have tested positive for coronavirus, the Health Ministry announced on Saturday, a decline compared to yesterday’s 40 cases. This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 426 (including ten in the British Bases). Thankfully, no new deaths were recorded today and one person no longer needs intubation. So far there were 13 deaths of patients found positive to Coronavirus of which nine are attributable to Covid-19.
Six more patients are to be discharged from Famagusta General Hospital the referral hospital for coronavirus, after their second tests came back negative. The Cyprus News Agency reports that at 7 pm on Saturday, there were 37 patients at the hospital, four of them in the increased care unit. Later this evening, six will go home. The hospital will be making four admissions. Meanwhile, a patient who had been intubated in Limassol Hospital’s ICU was taken off the ventilator and has been transferred to the referral hospital for further treatment.
A special Aegean flight is due at Larnaca Airport late on Saturday with medical supplies from China. It will bring personal protective equipment including gowns, masks and gloves for health professionals as well as other supplies for use at public hospitals. The Cyprus government has already thanked the two companies for their contribution.
Cyprus has adequate supplies of chloroquine to meet potential demand for the drug to treat the coronavirus, CEO of pharmaceutical company Remedica said on Saturday. Cyprus has banned chloroquine exports while a combination of azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine is being administered selectively to Covid-19 patients. Michalis Neoptolemou said based on the protocols, Cyprus has enough chloroquine that could be used against the virus if necessary. Remedica, which produces the drug, has placed all the quantity in its possession at the disposal of the state free of charge, Neoptolemou said.
Sample taking for about 1000 free coronavirus tests got underway in Paphos at 8 am on Saturday, as authorities seek to obtain a better picture of contagion in the community. Paphos and Aradippou both have a disproportionately high number of Covid-19 cases and the Health Ministry together with local authorities have arranged for broader tests to locate possible cases in both. Samples are being taken at the former residence of the Paphos district officer from 8 am to 4 pm and will continue tomorrow and Monday, possibly Tuesday. The people have been selected based on a demographic model so as to be representative of the community.
Police carried out more than 5000 checks of individuals as well as premises to ensure compliance with decrees to contain the spread of coronavirus in the past 12 hours. A police spokesman said that from 6 pm on Friday to 6 am on Saturday, police had carried out 3928 checks of pedestrians and drivers who were out and about. The spokesman said that 103 were booked. Breaking the stay at home decrees carries a €300 fine after the House of Representatives yesterday approved a government bill doubling the initial fine.
Fitch ratings agency has revised Cyprus’ outlook from positive to stable reflecting the significant impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic on the island’s economy. Fitch said it expected a GDP contraction of more than 2 per cent in 2020, reflecting the material negative impact of the health crisis on the global economy. However, risks to this baseline forecast are tilted firmly to the downside, as it assumes that the coronavirus can be contained in the second half of the year, leading to a relatively strong economic recovery in 2021. In the event of a second wave of infections and the widespread resumption of lockdown measures, economic outturns would be significantly weaker for 2020 and 2021, Fitch said. The recession and the economic policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic will result in a sizeable deterioration of the budget balance this year.
Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides on Friday welcomed the announcement by the banks’ association (ACB) that they would not charge compound interest on the deferred interest accrued from the suspension for nine months of loan instalments. In a written statement on Friday evening, the ACB said that in addition to the suspension of capital and interest instalments, compound interest will not be applied to loans that fall under the provisions of the finance minister’s decree ordering all licensed banks in Cyprus suspend the collection of loan instalments – including interest – until the end of the year.
Cyprus Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou says that his responsibility and that of the government is to protect people’s health, adding it is an obligation stemming from the Constitution as well as his own conscience. In a message posted on Facebook, Ioannou wrote that he was aware of citizens’ protests over restrictive measures, adding that he shared many of the concerns that were being raised regarding problems at public hospitals. But the minister asked members of the public for their understanding, noting that the situation they are called to handle is an unprecedented one. In this endeavour, Ioannou said, it is impossible to avoid making mistakes adding that he was ready to accept criticism. “We are doing everything humanly possible,” he said.