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Update – 18/03/2020 (Part 2)

  • Nine new Covid-19 cases were announced by the government on Wednesday evening – one of them a doctor – bringing the number to 58 in the government-controlled areas, 20 in the north, a total of 78 islandwide. Over half, 31, are from contacts with confirmed cases. One is a paediatrician at Limassol general hospital who had recently returned from abroad. She returned from Greece in the last few days and went back to work. It is understood that she attended a seminar in the hospital with other doctors as recently as Tuesday. The children’s ward in Limassol general hospital was shut down immediately and work is underway for them to be transported elsewhere.
  • The Chinese Ambassador to Cyprus, Huang Xingyuan, said the Embassy was working around the clock to facilitate the donation of medical supplies to Cyprus. Ambassador Huang Xingyuan wrote on Twitter that China is ramping up production of medical supplies, such as masks and protective wear to aid global anti Covid-19 efforts. The Embassy is working around the clock to facilitate the donation of medical supplies from the Chinese government to Cyprus, he added.
  • Banks on Wednesday announced the suspension of foreclosure procedures for three months in a bid to help people affected from the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis. The suspension will be in place until June 18, the bank association said in a statement. “Recognising the difficult situation, the country is going through, Cyprus banks will do whatever possible to support the economy, businesses, households, and society in general,” the statement said.
  • Earlier, Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides announced that the state-owned asset management company Kedipes was suspending foreclosures for three months. The government has also proposed to the energy regulator to cut the price of electricity by 10 per cent for three months. The proposal is among measures to help the public deal with the financial fallout of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • The cabinet on Wednesday approved a raft of bills, including a reduction in VAT and suspension of health insurance contributions as part of a €700 ml package announced by the government on Sunday to tackle the fallout of the ongoing crisis. It includes reducing of the standard VAT rate to 17 per cent from 19 per cent for two months starting April 1, and the rate imposed on accommodation from 9 per cent to seven per cent for three and a half months. The cabinet also approved the temporary suspension of a raise in national health scheme contributions for two months starting April 1.

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