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Update – 23/03/2020

  • President Nicos Anastasiades will address the nation on Monday at 20:30, who is anticipated to announce further measures to contain Covid-19. According to insider information published by philenews, following discussions at a ministerial meeting he chaired on Monday morning at the Presidential Palace, stricter measures are expected to be announced for public gatherings. Some of the anticipated measures, is the banning of a certain number of people in public spaces, like parks or gardens, and a closure of open markets after large gatherings were observed in Nicosia and Limassol over the weekend, the closure of construction sites and factories except factories producing basic items. It was added that greater fines are being considered for violations of the government’s decrees. The president’s address comes amid increasing calls from the public, the Medical Association and other organised groups to impose a lockdown.
  • The government is considering providing state guarantees to banks worth €2 billion in a bid to unlock credit to self-employed, small and medium-size businesses, and large corporations hit by the Covid-19 epidemic. The plan, which will be discussed with Cypriot lenders, provides for government guarantees to SMEs and self-employed persons amounting to €1.7bn and €300m for large corporations. The aim , according to the Cyprus News Agency, is to provide state government guarantees with a total amount of up to €2bn to Cypriot licensed banking institutions, including subsidiaries of foreign credit institutions, so that they provide loans to companies and self-employed persons (to help them) deal with the effects of the measures to combat the Covid-19 (epidemic). The plan aims to cover the credit risk by encouraging the bank to provide cheap new loans from April 2 until the end of the year, as well to cover the credit risk in current loans by elf-employed persons, SMEs, and large corporations, which have been hit by the Covid-19 epidemic. It also covers the issuance of current accounts and overdrafts that may not exceed 50 per cent of the amount offered to a self-employed person, 25 per cent of the amount provided to an SME, and 15 per cent of large corporation. “The provision of loans aims to cover the companies’ and self-employed persons’ liquidity, working capital, and investments,” the draft said. It makes clear that self-employed or corporates that had non-performing exposures at the end of 2019 will not be eligible for the plan. As far as the limit of loans is concerned, the draft notes that a loan cannot exceed an amount that is double the company’s or a self-employed person’s annual wage bill in 2019 or the latest available year, or cannot exceed the annual wage bill for the first two years of operation in case of companies or self-employed persons that began operations in January 2019. According to the draft, in some justified cases and based on liquidity plans, loans can be increased to cover the liquidity needs for the next 18 months in the case of a self-employed person or an SME, and the next 12 months when it comes to a large corporation. According to the draft, the plan will be put into force on April 2 and will run until the end of the year.
  • Almost the entire team making up the Health Ministry’s Epidemiological Monitoring unit have been placed in self-isolation after two of its members in charge of the press briefings were said on Sunday to have come into contact with a person found positive to Covid-19, philenews reports. The two epidemiologists have been placed in self-isolation until their test results come out, and so has the rest of the team except for one male doctor who did not come into contact with the confirmed case. The team will reportedly continue working from home.
  • Measures governing the operation of public health facilities have been extended for another 48 hours. These were adopted by decree effective from March 20 in order to protect health professionals in public hospitals on the front line of tackling the Covid-19 outbreak. The State Health Services Organisation (Okypy) also decided late on Sunday to extend the closure of the Paphos Hospital for another 48 hours as four of the 11 new positive Covid-19 cases announced yesterday are linked to the hospital. The Ministry of Health said that special arrangements would be made for haematological, oncological, dialysis and thalassemia cases during the closure. All surgeries have also been suspended. Patients affected by the changes are asked to contact the private sector for their requirements, namely the Evangelismos and Kyanos Stavros (Blue Cross) medical centres which both have an agreement with the Ministry of Health.
  • Head of the Nephrological Department Dr Lakis Yioukas, who is in self-isolation after a nurse in the Dialysis Unit came out positive, told CNA that 80 swabs have been taken from patients at the dialysis unit and 20 more will be taken on Monday. The Epidemiological monitoring unit of the Ministry of Health has already started tracing the contacts of the new confirmed cases of Covid-19 at Paphos hospital and will take swabs for testing. 680 people are said to be currently working at Paphos hospital and testing is ongoing. Fewer than 30 patients remain in the hospital, which has suspended new admissions.
  • The Health Ministry announced on Monday that another 21 patients have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 116 (including three in the British Bases). According to the update from the Ministry of Health, the new cases are 12 found through tracing of the contacts of people who were found positive to Covid-19, 3 connected to Paphos Hospital, 6 that returned from EU countries, developed symptoms and contacted the authorities. The Epidemiological monitoring unit has already started tracing the contacts of the new cases and will take swabs to run tests. 62 of the 116 confirmed cases are from contact with other people found positive to Covid-19. 15 patients are currently being treated at Famagusta hospital, the referral hospital for Covid-19. Two are in intensive care with respiratory difficulties.
  • A total of 38 cases have been reported in the north, of which 31 are German tourists and seven Turkish Cypriots.
  • Turkish Cypriot authorities in the non-government controlled areas have imposed stricter movement restrictions in the north of the country. Starting from Monday morning, people can only leave their home for specific tasks, such as going to the supermarket or going to the pharmacy. Visits to the park or recreation activities outdoors are prohibited while according to reports, the tougher measures were deemed as necessary after people were violating self-quarantine measures.

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