The health ministry announced four new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, the second day most restrictions were lifted after two months of lockdown. The total number of cases now stands at 927.
Cyprus will re-open its airports in two stages, starting on June 9, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos announced on Friday after a meeting of the Council of Ministers. Stage one will be from June 9 to 19. The second stage will start on June 20, he said. There are two groups of countries with different rules regarding arrivals. In the first phase, all arrivals will need to have tested negative for coronavirus within 72 hours before departure. Cypriots and permanent residents will be able to carry out the test in Cyprus and then self-isolate until the result is out. For phase two, no test will be required for group one of the countries. Group two will need to test 72 hours before. He also announced that hotels will reopen on June 1. Moreover, quarantine for all arrivals will be abolished on May 25. All those currently in quarantine will be asked to self-isolate for a period that will depend on the country from which they came. Those repatriating between May 25 and June 8 will carry out a test on arrival and will remain in quarantine for a day or until the result is out. They will then go to their homes to self isolate for seven days for those from countries in group A and B and 14 for those from other countries. Karousos said, based on the advice of epidemiologists, that there are two groups of countries. Group one is made up of Greece, Malta, Bulgaria, Norway, Austria, Finland, Slovenia, Hungary, Israel, Denmark, Germany, Slovakia and Lithuania. Group two is made up of Switzerland, Poland, Romania, Croatia, Estonia and Czechia. The two lists will be updated and additional countries will be announced in the next few days, the minister said. For countries not included on the above lists, flights will be permitted only for Cypriots, legal residents and those with a special permit who will be allowed to enter but must have tested negative within 72 hours of departure. If not, they must do the test here, but must then quarantine for one day or until the result is out. All passengers from countries not included in the two categories will need to self-isolate at home for 14 days.
Saying it was essential to ensure compliance with hygiene rules as restrictive measures are relaxed, Cabinet on Friday approved bills introducing tougher penalties for violation of the quarantine decree which it is sending to the House of Representatives as a matter of urgency. Justice Minister Yiorgos Savvides said that the bill raises the penalties both as regards the quarantine law and the out of court fine imposed on business managers and owners who violate decrees and regulations issued under the quarantine law. The fines will rise for repeat offences. The bill also allows the issue of a court order to close down a business for non-compliance.
Increase in the penalty for violating the quarantine law to up to one year in prison and /or fine not exceeding €50,000. The current penalty is up to six months in jail and/or fine of €3,000,
The out of court fine of €300 remains in force and the draft legislation introduces the possibility of a higher out of court fine for business managers or owners for violations of the regulations or decrees issued under the quarantine law. In the event of a first violation, the out of court fine will be €2,000, in the event of a second violation €4,000 and for a third €8,000. If there is a fourth violation, the business manager or owner can be prosecuted. If a decision is taken to prosecute, either after the third time or earlier if this is deemed necessary, the prosecution can submit an ex parte application to the court for a temporary order suspending the operation of the business or economic activity at any premise or place.
The amendments are seen as essential in view of the gradual relaxation of the restrictive measures and the need for strict compliance with hygiene protocols by businesses so as to protect public health, the minister said. The bills will be sent to the House immediately to be examined as urgent.
According to the Thursday report of the Epidemiological Surveillance Unit of the Health Ministry, as of May 19 a total of 90,619 Coronavirus tests have been conducted, which corresponds to 10,345 tests per 100,000 population, similar to Malta which has reported 11,001 tests per 100,000 population.
Of the 918 positive cases recorded until May 19, 50.2% are female (461 individuals) and 49.8% male (457 individuals). By age groups, cases included 58 infants, children and adolescents aged 0-17 years-old (6.3%), 634 adults aged 18-59 years (69.1%), and 226 persons aged 60 years and older (24.6%).
Information on pre-existing conditions was available for 809 (88.1%) of cases. Of those, 330 people (40.8% of the total) reported at least one other pre-existing condition. The most common ones were hypertension (127/801; 15.9%), diabetes (73/809; 9%), heart disease (63/804; 7.8%), and cancer (25/809; 3.1%).
Summary of the new findings:
As of May 19th, a total of 918 COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths (case fatality rate: 2.6%) have been reported in the Republic of Cyprus.
Among these cases, 20.6% are health-care workers (189 people) – 4.3% physicians (39 people), 10.3% nurses (95 people), 1.4% other health occupations (13 people), and 4.6% auxiliary staff (42 people).
The median age of cases is 45 years (interquartile range – IQR: 32-59 years); 49.8% are male and 50.2% are female.
Overall, of 773 cases for which the place of exposure was known, locally acquired infections (index cases and close contacts of confirmed cases) were 643 (83.2%) – of these 8.9% (57 people) were related to a health-care facility (General Hospital in Pafos) and 12.8% (82 people) were reported in Aradippou municipality.
In total, 19% (174 people) of cases received hospital care, of which 139 (79.9%) have been discharged alive from the hospital. Median age of all hospitalized patients is: 62 years (interquartile range: 49-73 years) and 64.9% are males.
Four patients were still in intensive care units (for part of the day if they died, were discharged or transferred on that day or for the whole day, by May 19th); three of them were intubated.
Overall, 561 (61.1%) cases have recovered (two negative tests following their diagnosis).
A total of 90,619 tests have been performed as of May 19th (10,345.8 per 100,000 population).