The health ministry on Thursday confirmed 20 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 735. The message from the experts at the briefing was ‘stay home at Easter’. The new cases were identified from 2,905 tests. Seven were identified from the testing of 600 people who came in contact with confirmed cases, two health professionals tested positive, while one person was tested after a private initiative. Ten cases were identified from 1,724 tests as part of the 20,000 precautionary tests carried out on front-line employees and 6,000 tests on health professionals. Virologist Dr Leontios Kostrikis said he was satisfied with the results. The new cases “reflect the behaviour of society and are the result of collective effort,” he said. “We managed to stabilise the situation in Cyprus,” added clinical director of Okypy Dr Marios Loizou
No new coronavirus cases were announced in the north on Thursday, but concerns were voiced over the fact that a couple was accidentally found positive to the virus on Wednesday. Until Wednesday, the north had reported 104 coronavirus cases and four deaths.
The Epidemiological Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health released on Wednesday its latest report on the development of Covid-19 in Cyprus up to April 14, according to which the mortality rate among confirmed cases stands at 2.4%. The majority of cases still concerns healthcare workers at a rate of 22.9%. It also found that 21.5% of positive cases received hospital care, of which 58.0% were discharged alive from the hospital.
Health authorities announced on Thursday they would be taking delivery of nine million masks in the next 30 days, which could be distributed to the general population in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The masks will arrive in two batches at the end of April and mid-May, the health ministry said. More details will be announced at a later date.
In a televised address on the occasion of Easter, President Nicos Anastasiades on Thursday once more urged the general public to continue to comply with the lockdown rules so that Cyprus can emerge from the coronavirus crisis. No decision has been taken on when the lockdown will be eased he added, as this will depend on the outbreak and adherence to the measures. Here is the official translation of his address as sent by the PIO:
My thoughts, these Holy days, are with those who have been infected with the virus, with those who are going through the ordeal and the agony of survival, with those who have lost loved ones. I wish everyone strength and courage. My thoughts are also with those who are anxious about the uncertainty of tomorrow, whether employees or entrepreneurs. My thoughts are focused, at the same time, on those who are rightly called frontline heroes, healthcare professionals, police officers, fire-fighters, National Guard personnel, Civil Defence executives, gamekeepers, volunteers, employees of various vital private or public services, in order to meet the daily human needs, but also to keep hope alive; As I honour all of you who are being tested as a result of unwanted but mandatory restrictions; Restrictions that deprive us of our freedom of movement and choice, of contact with our loved ones, of the right to express, especially these days, our respect and faith, the right to live and rejoice as we used to, on Easter. It is for all these feelings of gratitude that I have toward all of you that I would like to say a big thank you because thanks to your professionalism, sacrifice, patience and patriotism, I am confident that we will succeed again. Hopes have been rising in recent days, but they do not signal the end. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go, with the same prudence. During yesterday’s meeting of the Council of Ministers, and as always, taking into account the advice of the Scientific Team, we decided on the strategy for gradual relaxation of the measures. I want to be precise and clear. What we have decided is the strategy, not the date of the implementation of the decision. The implementation will depend and is completely interwoven with the course of the reduction in the number of cases, i.e. the progress of the continued strict observance of the restrictive measures, the mutual respect and the solidarity that the overwhelming majority is exhibiting. There is no room for mistakes; no complacency is allowed. What seems to be under control today may easily, if we ignore the risk, become uncontrollable the next day. That is why, in my address today, in addition to a message of hope, respect and love, I want to convey the need not to allow emotions to prevail over reason. I know it is painful to ask of Christians to suspend their religious practices, to ask of one’s fellow citizens to abstain from worship or other events associated with the Resurrection of the God-man, or even to experience the joys of spring. But for this year, it is absolutely necessary to patiently face our trials, to live, if you will, our own Golgotha. Moreover, don’t forget that Golgotha is always followed by the Resurrection. That is why I appeal to everyone, once again: Strictly follow the protective measures; avoid unnecessary travel; do not succumb to the temptation to visit your villages or cottages. Do not listen to the dissidents who identify faith in God with the choice of death. Listen to the prudent voices of the Ecumenical Patriarch and of the Head of the Church of Cyprus. “Today, our faith is not in danger; the health of the faithful is”. Thanks to your own sacrifices and our own determination to take early on the tough measures that we are all experiencing, improvements are being made every day, and the hope for full mitigation is becoming even more apparent. I want to assure you that with the help of the scientific team we have designed every step, every measure to cope with the pandemic. With the same prudence, we plan, in cooperation with the political forces and the social partners, to also deal with the consequences of the unprecedented crisis that has befallen humankind. I ask you to trust me once again. With your cooperation and the support of the country’s political forces, which I would like to warmly thank once again, I assure you that we will succeed. I wish I was able at this time to shake the hand of each and every one of you, to express my thanks and gratitude; To wish you all a Happy Easter, strength and courage. Unfortunately, despite my wish, I cannot do that; as I will not be able to hug my children and my grandchildren. Please do the same for the good of your loved ones. If we are deprived of contact with them today, we will be sure to embrace them tomorrow. I wish everyone a Happy Easter.
The finance ministry is looking to make small changes to a bill concerning the provision of state-backed cheap lending in a bid to overcome party objections and get it approved by parliament. According to the Cyprus News Agency, the ministry was finalising the bill after examining the proposals submitted by the parties. “Some very small changes have been made,” according to an anonymous source quoted by CNA. No more details were provided. It is expected that the amended bill will be discussed by the House finance committee after Easter, possibly next Wednesday or Thursday. Committee chairman and Diko MP Angelos Votsis had said that the matter would only be discussed if the bill was amended. Parties have expressed concerns over the government’s plan to afford €2bn in state guarantees for cheap loans to support the economy.
More than 40,000 applications to suspend loan instalments have been submitted to Bank of Cyprus and Hellenic Bank, the CNA reports, under the government’s moratorium on loans effected to counter the economic impact from Covid-19 measures. Bank of Cyprus said today that so far it has received more than 20,000 applications, with instalments suspended for more than 35,000 accounts. Of the total number of applications, 84% comes from individuals and the rest from businesses, while 58% of loan suspension requests concern mortgages. Hellenic Bank also received more than 20,000 requests to suspend loans, 80% of which are from individuals and the rest from businesses.
A Russian businessman who hold Cyprus citizenship has donated €1 m to the state health services organisation (Okypi) to buy monitors for the new ICU wing under construction at Nicosia General Hospital. Roman Semionkin obtained Cypriot citizenship under the citizenship by investment scheme and has been living in Cyprus with his family for the past few years, Okypi said. It said that through this generous gesture, the donor wanted to contribute to efforts to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak in Cyprus. The first of the monitors are due to be shipped to Cyprus in the next few days.
Police booked 84 pedestrians and drivers for flouting the stay at home decree after carrying out 5217 checks from 6 pm on Wednesday to 6 am on Thursday. Moreover, there were 907 checks on premises and all were found to be in compliance.
Tourism, one of the first industries to be affected by the current coronavirus pandemic, accounts for 20% of employment in the business economy of Cyprus. This is the second highest rate in the EU after Greece, according to figures issued by Eurostat on Thursday. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, travel restrictions and widespread cancellations have led to an almost complete halt in international as well as national tourism. Based on Eurostat estimates, in 2017, there were 2.3 million enterprises in the tourism industries (these are economic activities providing an important part of their services to tourists, but also to non-tourists). This was more than one in ten of the EU’s non-financial business economy. The 11.7 million persons employed represented 9% of employment in the non-financial business economy and 22% of the services sector. The tourism industries accounted for 3.7% of the turnover and 5.8% of the value added at factor cost of the non-financial business economy in 2017. Compared to other sectors, the tourism industries have relatively strong seasonality, with peaks in turnover in the third quarter (July, August and September) every year and a long-term upwards trend up to the last quarter of 2019 (the most recent data available).