The health ministry on Wednesday confirmed 20 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 715. The new cases include three from the 20,000 planned tests that are being carried out on people who are working and come in contact with people, eight through contact tracing, seven that arrived on Monday from London and two people who got tested through a private initiative. So far 12 people have died from Covid-19 in Cyprus, while five others who had the virus died of other health issues.
Another two people have tested positive for coronavirus in Turkish-held north Cyprus bringing the total to 102. Turkish Cypriot authorities said that two cases were detected from 171 tests.
The cabinet on Wednesday approved a plan for the gradual lifting of restrictions and reopening vital businesses from early May, provided the epidemiological data allow it, Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides said. Petrides said the plan includes three stages that reach the end of 2021. “With the pandemic ongoing and the financial cost rising substantially, numerous EU countries are planning their strategy for gradual lifting of the restrictions,” the minister told the Cyprus News Agency. The EU has given guidelines aimed at a gradual exit from the lockdown so that member-states coordinate to avoid causing negative effects to each other, he added. Petrides stressed that a robust and functional economy is a necessary condition for a functional health system. The government’s strategy is divided into three stages but progressing from one to the next would be largely defined by the epidemiological data. The first stage concerns the restrictions and the plan to shore up the economy, which the government has already rolled out to a large extent. The second includes opening businesses, which, provided the pandemic has been contained, is expected to gradually start early in May in vital sectors of the economy. It will take place in a coordinated manner so as not to put the containment effort at risk. For the gradual opening to start, certain conditions must be met like flattening the curve of new cases, the adequacy of the health system, and systematic monitoring through a large number of tests. Four other criteria will be taken into consideration – the infection risk, the probability of the virus causing serious illness, the importance of the sector to the economy and social life, and the ability of imposing and maintaining safety measures, Petrides said. The third stage concerns restarting the economy, expected to take place if all goes well, between September 2020 and December 2021.
Cyprus’ citizenship by investment scheme is to be mobilised in efforts to generate revenue for the state which according to scenarios prepared by the Finance Ministry will face financing needs of between €3.6b and €5b to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Citing sources, Phileleftheros said that regulations setting terms and conditions to grant citizenship for reasons of public interest as well as to non-Cypriot businessmen and investors in derogation of the preconditions are to be tabled in parliament after Easter. The draft regulations have been checked by the three member ad hoc committee responsible for checking the citizenship process which has submitted its own proposals. The regulations will set out with transparency the conditions under which investors can obtain citizenship. Once these are approved, the vetting process will be accelerated for the hundreds of pending applications. So far, 100 applications have been approved and there are another 700 pending.
Moody’s ratings agency said Wednesday it had revised its outlook for the Cypriot banking system from positive to stable to reflect the impact of widespread economic disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak. “We expect far-reaching civic and business shutdowns to trigger an economic downturn this year, which will reverse the trend of steadily falling problem loans and erode banks’ profitability,” Moody’s said. “However, the banks have significantly strengthened their capital and liquidity in recent years, which should enable them to absorb the deterioration in loan quality and earnings.” Moody’s said it expected that government and central bank support measures will limit long-term economic damage to Cypriot businesses and households and “we anticipate a healthy recovery in economic activity in 2021.”
Another 85,000 employees received their special allowance today as the Labour Ministry continues to process payments as part of the government’s support schemes for businesses, employees and self-employed affected by the coronavirus lockdown. In an announcement, the ministry said that today payment was made to about 85,000 employees under the special sick leave allowance and the special unemployment allowance for companies that have completely or partly suspended operations. Yesterday, transfers were made to 25,000 eligible for the special child care allowance and the special allowance for the self-employed. Transfers of the remaining allowances will continue in the next days. Efforts to the confirm the bank accounts of those whose applications had discrepancies continues, the ministry added.
Samples from 422 people, belonging to personnel of the State Health Services Organization (SHSO), were taken so far to be tested for COVID-19, said SHSO Spokesperson Pampos Harilaou. In a written announcement, Harilaou said that 160 samples were taken from Limassol General Hospital, 143 from Larnaca General Hospital, 47 from Makario Children`s Hospital, 42 from Troodos Hospital and 50 from Nicosia General Hospital. Since the beginning of the program, a total of 963 samples were taken and results are pending, Harilaou concluded.
Seventy-four people were booked overnight for violating the movement restrictions after police carried out 3,490 checks, they said. Officers also checked 577 premises such as cafes and restaurants between 6pm on Tuesday until 6am on Wednesday. None had violated the decree imposed to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Two departures and two arrivals are scheduled today at Larnaca Airport as repatriations continue, CNA reports. It said that a Cyprus Airways flight was scheduled to depart for Athens at 10 am taking 144 Greek nationals and Eldyk soldiers home. A second Cyprus Airways flight leaves at 10.20 for Heathrow with 96 passengers, mostly Britons. A Cyprus Airways flight is due back from Athens at 14.20 with 144 Eldyk soldiers while the Heathrow flight is due in the evening with 97 passengers, Cypriots and permanent residents who were stranded abroad as well as students belonging to the vulnerable group. All arrivals undergo a coronavirus test and are then taken to quarantine facilities operated by the state for 14 days. Those who were abroad for medical reasons are allowed to go home but must self-isolate.