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Update – 05/05/2020

  • Four new coronavirus cases and one death were announced by the health ministry on Tuesday, bringing the total of cases to 878. Virologist Leontios Kostrikis said these were from 1,250 tests. He said two of the cases were found through contact tracing, while another two were found among tests conducted on private initiative. A total of 313 tests processed from state hospital laboratories came back negative, as did 121 on people returning from abroad, and 27 from 2,000 private food and beverage workers. Another 84 tests were processed from a group of 20,000 public and private sector workers with none testing positive. “The epidemiological picture remains encouraging. However, the new cases show that the virus is still in our community and being transferred,” Kostrikis said.
  • Announcing the death, scientific director of state health services Okypy Dr Marios Loizou said the man, 56, died early on Tuesday morning, and had underlying health issues. Loizou added the final cause of death was not Covid-19. “In total, the number of deaths of patients with the SARS-CoV-2 virus is 21, and the number from Covid-19 remain at 15,” Loizou said, 11 men and four women, with an average age of 73.
  • There is no magic recipe for the transition to the next phase, which was implemented in all countries and has worked, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou has told CNA, noting at the same time that there is no reason for concern because coronavirus cases have not reached zero. In statements to CNA, Ioannou says that just like all the other countries, Cyprus is stepping into “unchartered waters” and takes decisions based on the situation as it unfolds locally. According to the Minister of Health and the estimates of the Ministry’s scientific team the number of cases is sufficiently low allowing for optimism for the way forward. “This was, among other things, a factor which contributed to (deciding) the gradual restart of the society and the economy,” he points out, adding that “expecting zero cases would be utopic.” “We haven’t witnessed such a development in any of the countries who have started easing their restrictions,” he said. Ioannou continued that at any rate it is taken for granted that the virus will be with us for a long time to come, or at least until the medical community develops a vaccine or other treatment.” Taking this into account, he added, we must continue the effort to keep Cyprus in the last places of the cases map and in the first on the diagnostic tests map. He also said that in any case “we need to continue to be committed and disciplined.” Asked whether an increase of cases is expected after the easing of measures the Minister of Health replied that this is inevitable, stressing that the goal continues to be to keep the number of cases in low levels.
  • Tests for COVID-19 continue among employees working in retail, as measures relax gradually in Cyprus, Press Officer of the Ministry of Health, Margarita Kyriakou, told CNA. On Wednesday, authorities will start taking samples from people working on construction sites, she added. Kyriakou said that tests started on Monday and will be concluded by May 25. A total of 14,000 employees working in retail and 6,000 people working in construction sites will be tested as part of the program. Kyriakou said that one employee will be tested in businesses employing up to 3 people, three employees in businesses employing up to 10 people, six employees in businesses employing between 10 and 30 and 10 employees in businesses employing more than 30 people. As for people working in construction sites, Kyriakou said that samples will start being taken on May 6. Half of the 6,000 tests will be done using mobile units on site, and the rest will be conducted after an appointment. Laboratories conducting the tests will be informed by Wednesday about the list of construction sites as well as about the number of employees to be tested, in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, Kyriakou said.
  • Police booked 50 pedestrians and drivers for breaking the lockdown after carrying out 3852 checks  between 6 pm on Monday and 6 am on Tuesday.
  • The Labour Inspection Department said on Monday that by 1 pm on the first day of the easing of restrictions it had checked 370 retail businesses and 95 construction sites for compliance with the new measures. According to an announcement, inspectors generally found a “satisfactory level of compliance” in retail businesses but in some cases there was no signage and no use of face mask. The construction site inspections revealed a “low level of compliance” as there was no signage, no sanitary or cleaning facilities nor antiseptics. In these cases, strict recommendations were made to improve protective measures, and construction site Improvement and Prohibition Notices were issued.
  • Energy companies ENI and Total have notified the government they are postponing their scheduled gas drilling operations off Cyprus for approximately one year. Government spokesman Kyriacos Koushios confirmed to the Cyprus Mail that they recently received word of the delay from the two companies. Drilling will be postponed until March or April 2021. The ‘good news’, Koushios added, is that the companies are not canceling the capital expenditures allocated to the drills. ENI and Total had planned to carry out exploratory drilling at a site dubbed Kronos in block 6 of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, work had been due to start in early February, but was delayed owing to technical issues faced by the drillship, the Tungsten Explorer, while it was operating in Egyptian waters. The drillship then headed to Lebanese waters. In mid-April, ExxonMobil had likewise informed the government they would be postponing a planned drill in their block 10 concession. ExxonMobil said they pushed back to September 2021 an appraisal (or follow-up) well at the Glafcos site in block 10.
  • President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades said on Tuesday that Cyprus pledges €200,000 to the WHO, to reinforce efforts against COVID-19. Cyprus applauds the Coronavirus Global Response initiative, the President wrote in a message on Twitter. “All countries together we can overcome this challenge” he went on, adding that in this spirit, Cyprus pledges €200,000 to the WHO, reinforcing its efforts to limit the spread of the virus.

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