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Update – 13/04/2020

  • One more death was reported in Cyprus due to COVID-19 with authorities also announcing that 29 people tested positive on Monday. The 79-year-old man who passed away had serious health issues, authorities added. Dr. Leontios Kostrikis, member of the Advisory Body on the pandemic, said that 19 of the cases were identified through tracing contacts of people already diagnosed. Some 418 tests were carried out. A health professional and a patient at Larnaca General hospital are among the cases announced. Ten more people were detected from 473 tests and are part of the tests for the 20 thousand professionals which the government ordered to see the extent of the virus’ spread. From the 29 new cases, 12 are from the same working area. Based on today’s information, the total number of confirmed cases is 662, including the ten located in the British Bases.
  • A man aged 54 from Karavas is the fourth coronavirus fatality in the Turkish-held areas. There are 100 confirmed Covid-19 cases in occupied northern Cyprus.
  • Minister of Labor, Welfare and Social Insurance Zeta Emilianidou said that by next Thursday all special allowances due to the covid19 will be paid to all beneficiaries. She told the Cyprus News Agency that the Ministry received a total of 11,000 applications with incorrect information, adding that this number exceeded 20,000 at the beginning and the Ministry made a lot of efforts to diminish it. She assured all beneficiaries who have given incorrect data that the Ministry will spare no effort to receive all the accurate information so payments can be made after Easter.
  • President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades has explained the gradual and controlled programme to repatriate Cypriot nationals. A presidency press release said that President Anastasiades, taking into account the view of the Health ministry’s Scientific Group and in an effort to put an end to any uncertainty or speculation expressed in good faith, would like to state that the gradual and controlled repatriation programme will be implemented as follows:
    • The Deputy Minister of tourism, after discussions with the hoteliers’ leadership, has secured one thousand beds with the total number of beds available for quarantine purposes now around 2000. In addition, according to the criteria which have been decided and the tables prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, taking into account where possible the wish of those who have expressed their desire to repatriate on the relevant platform, the repatriation will be done as follows: First, persons (students and non-students) who are part of the vulnerable groups according to the medical council decision, students that are living in university accommodations and are registered in Foundation courses prior to registering for the first year of their undergraduate course or are in the first year of undergraduate studies. Other beneficiaries are (Cypriot citizens, students and non-students, those legally residing in the Republic of Cyprus and persons who have the right to enter the Republic based on the Vienna convention), according to the time-frame for repatriation which they have registered on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ relevant platform. The President notes that the Minister of Transport, Communications and Works has undertaken the responsibility to complete the repatriation operation through charter flights. The cost of repatriation would be borne by the citizens, except where the flight is provided free of charge by airlines or other agencies and in cases of persons that the Republic has sent abroad for medical purposes.  At the same time, the President clarified that the state will undertake the cost of compulsory stay (14 days of quarantine) and tests for coronavirus which those repatriated will have to undergo.
  • Two flight arrivals are scheduled at Larnaca Airport today as repatriations continue of those stranded because of the coronavirus pandemic. A Bulgaria Air flight is due from Sofia in the afternoon bringing 38 passengers, CNA reports. It will depart about one hour later. And Aegean is bringing more than 100 passengers from Heathrow, including students belonging to the vulnerable groups who have applied to return.
  • Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides appealed for unity on Monday in tackling the fallout of the coronavirus crisis, warning that it Cyprus was going through a difficult time and the state’s resources were not unlimited. “The situation is difficult, and we don’t have unlimited resources and what’s necessary is to display maximum unity and responsibility to overcome the difficult period ahead in the best way,” Petrides said. He was speaking after a meeting at the presidential palace where party leaders were briefed on the state of the economy and government efforts to dampen the effects of the coronavirus crisis. Petrides said the government’s package exceeded €2bn. The minister said Cyprus was among EU member states that enforced the strictest measures to limit the loss of life, shutting the majority of economic sectors.
  • The Ministry of Finance has withdrawn a recent decree on VAT returns from certain categories of taxpayers due to the pressure on public finances sparked by the coronavirus-related restrictive measures. And it is now looking for alternative ways to directly increase state revenue, which was reduced in March by €100 million, Phileleftheros reports. The law approved by Parliament a few days ago provides for the suspension of the imposed additional tax, interest charges and criminal measures for tax periods expiring on February 29, 2020, March 31, 2020 and April 30, 2020. Provided, however, that those concerned have submitted tax returns for these periods. The above regulation does not apply to supermarkets, pharmacies and other companies which have not been affected by the coronavirus crisis. In fact, the specific commercial activities had to pay 30% of the tax due before the withdrawn decree. Taxpayers now are not required to pay advanced VAT on April 15. In addition, the Ministry has announced that it will issue new regulations for payment of VAT by companies whose liquidity has not been affected. Technocrats of the Ministry are also working on a bill making mandatory VAT payment by retail business establishments at the end of each month. Currently, business establishments pay VAT every three months. According to the draft bill, tax payers who are active in the fields of electricity generation and collection and distribution of water will have to pay VAT every month. The same obligation will also apply to grocery stores, supermarkets, butchers, fish markets, bakeries, patisseries, kiosks, gas stations, computer-related stores, bookstores and pharmacies. The new legislation is expected to help the government increase revenue.
  • Police booked 217 drivers and pedestrians for breaking the stay at home decree after carrying out 12,082 checks from 6 am on Sunday to 6 am on Monday. The decree prohibits movement other than by exception and imposes a curfew from 9 pm to 6 am every night for all but essential workers.
  • Chief of police Kypros Michaelides addressed the public on Monday in a press release as the holy week kicks off to warn that police will be on high alert during Easter ramping up checks for compliance to Covid-19 decrees. Michaelides said that police will not allow any church-going, family gatherings, Easter bonfires or other activities pertinent to Easter traditions. “We will not be complacent; on the contrary, police members will be mobilised to the maximum of our capabilities,” he said.
  • A 19% decline in new coronavirus cases was recorded in the week 6-12 April compared to the week before (187 vs 230 cases).  The decline, in conjunction with a sharp increase in testing among workers and in the healthcare sector allows for cautious optimism. Last week, a total of 6,977 tests were fulfilled, a 35% increase from the week before when only 4,490 tests were conducted.

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