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Update – 09/04/2020

  • A 78-year-old woman who was hospitalized at the ICU in Nicosia General Hospital passed away Thursday due to covid19. On Thursday the authorities announced 38 new cases, identified from 1,216 tests, bringing total to 564, including ten cases in the Sovereign British Bases. Speaking during a press conference, at the Ministry of Health, Dr Marios Loizou, Scientific Director at the Nicosia Directorate of the Cyprus State Health Services Organisation said that 18 patients where traced back to already confirmed cases, 7 were identified through a total of 257 tests run at the Aradippou Municipality, while 13 patients’ history is investigated. He said that from the ten cases announced yesterday whose origin was not clear, the five have been related to an already confirmed case. The total of 564 cases in the Republic were identified through 15,489 tests run by the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics, the General Hospital labs as well as private labs. He pointed out that 413 out of 564 cases were locally acquired while 53 of the patients tested positive and were hospitalized, have already recovered.
  • The government of the Republic of Cyprus addressed the public on Wednesday night announcing the extension of the lockdown and the restrictive measures until 30 April. The government, that is receiving immense pressure from parents of students who study abroad announced that the cabinet decided to add more categories of people for repatriation. They include, students living in university halls who are either in their first year or doing foundation courses; permanent residents who worked abroad and who have since lost their jobs because of the coronavirus crisis; and permanent residents currently abroad whose return is deemed necessary for humanitarian reasons like taking care of people, are recipients or donors of organs and unaccompanied minors. “Entry into the Republic of Cyprus will also be allowed to people, irrespective of nationality, whose assistance, due to their professional or scientific capacity, is deemed necessary in the efforts to fight the pandemic.” Increased testing among the population, including 20,000 on those still working outside home, will be rolled out in the coming days in order to get a better grasp of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said. At the same time, 9 million masks will be purchased with a total cost of 3 million Euros. The necessary quantities of chloroquine for 240,000 patients have also been reserved. The 5 kg from China will mainly be used for the needs of Israel and for any future needs of the Republic of Cyprus. At the same time, it was announced that the plans set out by the Ministry of Labour have been extended until 12 June 2020. Additionally, for a four-month period after 12 June, the support to businesses and employees will continue, based on the conditions at work of each business. If a business after the end of the plans is still not able to go back to, let’s say 50% of its working cycle, then the government will continue supporting each business with a 50% share. (On the condition that the businesses have not fired their employees).
  • A total of 121 people were booked over Wednesday night for violating the movement ban, up from 76 the previous day. From Wednesday 6pm until Thursday 6am 2,920 were checked, out of which the 121 were found in violation of the ban, while from Tuesday 6pm until Wednesday 6am 3,890 drivers and pedestrians were checked and 76 caught. During the night, 586 premises were inspected and four of them were booked. The number of people booked from Wednesday evening until Thursday morning is 38 for Nicosia, 32 for Limassol, 10 for Larnaca, 24 for Paphos, 10 for the Famagusta district and 2 for the Morphou area.
  • A Cyprus Airways flight departs Larnaca Airport on Thursday morning for Heathrow with 90 passengers stranded in Cyprus because of the coronavirus pandemic, philenews reports. Most are British and US citizens. It is due back at 20.50, one of the repatriation flights being organised by the government to bring back Cypriots stranded abroad. It will bring back 96 passengers who obtained the necessary documentation to qualify for repatriation, as amended by yesterday’s decisions of the Council of Ministers. In addition, a flight is scheduled from Thesaloniki tomorrow afternoon. All will be required to do 14 days quarantine in state facilities. Cyprus Airways sources told philenews that the airline has adopted recommendations and protocols set by the Health Ministry regarding air transport because of Covid-19 and has limited the maximum number of passengers on the airplane. The government yesterday announced a partial easing of restrictions on repatriating Cypriots adding another four to the current five categories that qualify.
  • Economic indicators show that the coronavirus epidemic has already dealt a heavy blow to Cyprus’ real estate market with sales documents in March recording a 33% drop, Phileleftheros reports citing official statistics. All districts except Nicosia, the capital, have recorded a decrease with the hardest hit being Paphos (-56%) and Limassol (-50%). These two coastal towns were once the leaders in property sales but the coronavirus crisis seems to have put the brakes on this. The falling numbers are also due to the fact that many real estate offices had suspended operations after the first state decree on March 16 calling for a business shut down. However, all these companies as well as the Land Registry, slowly-slowly made arrangements for employees to work from home. Something that did not prevent the real estate market’s stagnation which is proved by the falling number of sales documents. It seems that only the capital is strong enough in this sector with the district’s number of sale documents increasing by 6% and reaching 139 in March, while in Limassol there was a 50% drop with 143 sales documents being submitted. In Larnaca, the drop in sales documents reached 10% (106 sales documents), in Famagusta area 9% (41) and in Paphos 56% (81).
  • Ministry of Finance technocrats but also parliamentary parties in Cyprus are considering proposals to suspend the payment of rents, primarily of commercial properties forced to close due to the coronavirus crisis. Thousands of businesses forced to shut down after the first state decree in mid-March and which are set to be inactive till the end of April have no liquidity and cannot cover their rent obligations. Even when the restrictive measures are lifted, no-one knows what situation thousands of small businesses with rental obligations will face. However, the task of suspending rents is not easy, since a fair compromise must be found that won’t have a devastating effect on landlords. The first step was taken in parliament with the recent approval of a legislative regulation banning evictions due to non-payment of rents because of the coronavirus crisis. The bill was submitted by the Ministry of Justice and voted in by the House plenum. Government officials are sending the message that at a time when measures are being taken to boost income, support employees and employers and boost liquidity, the rental sector could not be left out.

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