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Update – 20/03/2020

  • Eight new COVID -19 cases were confirmed on Friday the health ministry said, half of them health professionals. Of the eight new confirmed cases, three are health professionals at Paphos hospital and one in Limassol hospital. Another case concerns an employee at the Limassol hospital who is not a doctor or nurse. The other three concern contacts of persons already tested positive for COVID -19. Two of them are members of the same family. This brings the total number to 75.
  • A police officer has contracted COVID -19, police spokesman Andreas Christou confirmed on Friday afternoon. “Unfortunately, it is true, a police officer serving at the headquarters has contracted the virus,” Christou said. He added that following the briefing, by police chief Kypros Michaelides, orders have been given to carry out all the necessary measures to clean the workspace as provided for by the ministry of health.
  • The state asset management company Kedipes has suspended all planned foreclosures until June 30 and announced it has paid the state €90 m as repayment of state aid for 2020. In an announcement, Kedipes said that the board, taking into consideration the unfavourable conditions as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic it had decided:
    • to cancel all auctions scheduled until June 30, 2020, to suspend the start of auction procedures, suspend the termination of credit facilities and extend the timeframe to reach restructuring agreements or repay the loan without interest, until the same date
    • Kedipes plans to fully adopt all the recommendations of the Central Bank. Clients who face difficulty in repaying loans as a result of the epidemic can telephone 22744800.
  • The government submitted to parliament a complementary budget amounting to €302 million with a fiscal impact of 1.3% on GDP, as part of a €700 million economic package to alleviate consequences on the economy due to the COVID-19 epidemic. The Finance Minister invoked a clause in the fiscal responsibility and budget system law allowing for the submission of complementary budget prior to June 15 when special circumstances prevail as an unusual event out of the Republic’s control with grave consequences on the general government’s fiscal situation. The complementary budget covers expenditures of the fiscal package aiming to support vulnerable groups, companies, self-employed and the economy in general, a report accompanying the bill said.
  • The budget provides for €40 million for the granting of Special Leave to parents in both private and the public sector who are forced to stay at home to care for the children up to 15 years old due to the decision to close public and private schools. An amount of €110 million is part of the Businesses Suspension of Operations Plan covering companies which suspend operations or lose 25% of the turnover. The scheme aims to protect jobs while providing unemployment allowance for the time a company suspends operations. The budget also provides for €10 million for the support of small and medium sized corporations that employ up to five persons. These companies will be subsidised with 70% of their employees’ salaries provided they had a 25% in their turnover and that they don’t’ proceed with any layoffs. An amount of €16 million will be used to pay sick leave with an average amount of €800. The budget also includes €100 million for the combating of the COVID-19 epidemic and, if necessary, will be utilised for the hiring of additional doctors and other health and support personnel, equipment and other infrastructure as well for the support of the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics in human resources and equipment. An additional €15 million is earmarked for the allowance of €750 to be paid each student who opted to stay in the countries where they study. The budget also provides for €11 million for the recovery of the Cyprus tourism covering the period of June – September, as well as actions to attract tourists in the period of October – March 2021.
  • The first batch of medical supplies donated by China to Cyprus have been dispatched, the country’s ambassador in Nicosia Huang Xingyuan has said. In a message on Twitter, the ambassador said the supplies include 10,000 FFP2 masks. “The Embassy is working closely with the Government of Cyprus,” he added.
  • The A&E departments of Limassol and Paphos Hospitals have suspended operations for 72 hours, while those at Nicosia and Larnaca Hospitals will cater only for emergencies, the Health Ministry has announced. In addition outpatient departments at Paphos and Limassol Hospitals have suspended operations with the exception and with special arrangements for hematological and oncology cases, dialysis and thalassaemia. Famagusta Hospital continues to operate as the referral hospital for COVID-19 patients. The A&E and dialysis unit are also in operation. The announcement came as a a decree came into force placing all registered doctors and nurses under the orders of the Health Minister as part of sweeping measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. The ministry also said that in order to better manage human resources, protect health professionals working at public hospitals and who will be called upon to care for those who may fall heavily ill it was decided that:
  • It appears a senior doctor at Nicosia general hospital who had tested positive with Covid-19 has not transmitted the virus to anyone else, allowing some 50 staff to return to work next week. The island’s biggest hospital was shut down for 48 hours some 10 days ago after it emerged that the heart surgeon had tested positive. Those who came into contact with him were quarantined for two weeks, hampering the facility’s operation. Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou was quoted as saying on Friday it had been determined the doctor had not transmitted the virus to anyone else.
  • Cyprus Post announced on Friday that postal services will be suspended for all countries for all services, except the Quickpost courier service.
  • Municipalities islandwide are making special efforts to assist vulnerable groups facing uncertainty amid the coronavirus pandemic. Elderly people and those from vulnerable groups who have difficulties going out on their own – or wish to stay at home to remain safe – can seek assistance from their local authorities. In the capital, the municipality is supporting Cyprus Red Cross by offering the help of small buses, drivers and helpers to assist those in need. In Larnaca, the municipality has also launched a campaign of “staying home and support for vulnerable groups”. In Paphos, the municipality has announced that their staff will assist the elderly and vulnerable in obtaining necessary items such as medicine and food. Limassol municipality has set up a crisis centre for those in need and without the necessary support.
  • In good news, two patients that had been found positive to COVID-19 and were being treated at Famagusta Hospital tested negative to the virus on Thursday, China is sending us medical supplies and a Limassol company is giving disinfectant to the government free of charge.

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