Two more patients suffering with Covid-19 died while eight more cases were confirmed, the health ministry said on Tuesday. The deceased are a 65-year-old man who was at the Paphos general hospital and a 58-year-old man being treated at Nicosia hospital. This brings to three the total number of people of who have died and the total number of confirmed cases in the Republic to 124.
During the partial curfew enforced at 6pm on Tuesday for three weeks, those wishing to leave their home or shelter for any of the reasons falling under the exceptions to the travel restriction must either fill in a special form or send a text message to 8998. In a press conference held on Tuesday by Interior Minister Nicos Nouris and Deputy Minister for Research, Innovation and Digital Policy Kyriakos Kokkinos, further light was shed on the steps that must be taken by the public should they wish to leave their homes or shelters. As stated by President Nicos Anastasiades during his national address on Monday night, only the following reasons for travel are exempt from the travel ban:
Travel to and from workplaces
Travel to purchase essential items from businesses or stores that are allowed to operate and that cannot deliver the items
Visiting a doctor or a pharmacy
Visiting the bank if an electronic transaction is not possible
Visiting others with the aim of assisting them, given that those who are being visited are unable to take care of themselves or are part of vulnerable groups or are in self-isolation and/or quarantine facilities
The attendance of ceremonies such as funerals, weddings and christenings by first and second degree relatives, given those present do not exceed 10 persons
Leaving the house for a run or to take pets on walks, provided that this not done in groups of more than two people and that these travels are confined to each person’s neighbourhood
If a person wishes to leave their home or shelter for any of the above reasons, they must either fill in a form released to the public on Tuesday, or send a text message (free of charge) that will follow a specified template to the number 8998.
Those who will be travelling on a daily basis to and from their workplaces, will need to carry a specific form, currently only released to the public in Greek, which must be filled in by their employers or superiors. The same form can be filled in by self-employed persons who will also need to travel to and from their workplace. For the any of the remaining permitted reasons for travel, another form will need to be filled in by each person individually. Alternatively, those wishing to travel for reasons falling under the remaining exception categories can send an SMS to 8998. The text messages must follow a specific template set out the government.
Those who fail to comply with the decrees issued by the Minister of Health in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus, will be reported by the Police and face the consequences of the law, the Minister of Justice and Public Order George Savvides had told Cyprus News Agency. In his statements, George Savvides said that he is in constant contact with the leadership of the Police to which he has given clear instructions to intensify the checks for compliance with the Ministry’s of Health decrees on Covid-19. The law must be obeyed by everyone, Savvides noted. It goes without saying, he said, that we all have to respect and comply with the decrees. Government decisions, he added, must be strictly observed and no one has the right not to comply with the decrees.
The Ministry of Labour launched a website (in Greek) with information to the public on its support package for workers and businesses affected by the Covid-19 measures and also offers the option to apply electronically for the announced grants. According to the Labour ministry’s announcement, the new portal launched on Tuesday provides the following:
Detailed information on the Labour Ministry’s support programme
Electronic application for services (process ready soon)
Electronic communication with the department for provision of services
Section with Frequently Asked Questions which will be regularly updated
The public is called to refer to the new website www.coronavirus.mlsi.gov.cy for advice prior to calling the Labour Ministry’s hotline 1433 for a faster service and to prevent overloading the call centre.
The Labour Ministry has announced that as part of measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, permits of foreign workers will be automatically be renewed for one year and the approvals will be sent to employers. This means that no new applications need be submitted. Renewals apply to work permits of foreign workers who are already employed on an annual basis, it clarified. Existing contracts will be extended until the date of the extension to be sent to employers.
New measures have been announced at Nicosia General Hospital and Larnaca General Hospital after a nurse and a patient tested positive for Covid-19. The state health services organisation (OKIPY) said that it was taking measures to protect the health of medical professionals as well as of patients in the ICU of the cardiology department of Nicosia Hospital and the general ward of Larnaca Hospital where the two cases were found. Both wards have been placed in isolation and there will be no new admissions. In addition, samples from all the staff who came into contact with the confirmed cases and all the patients in the two wards will be sent to the Cyprus Institute of Neurology for tests. Medical professionals who are considered to have come into close contact with a confirmed case have been ordered to self-isolate and monitor their health. The epidemiological monitoring unit of the Health Ministry will continue tracing the contacts of the staff and patients to find possible cases. Patients in the general ward of Larnaca Hospital and the ICU of the cardiology unit of Nicosia are in isolation in their wards and their clinical condition will be monitored. The areas are being disinfected as per the protocol, and an investigation will be carried out for both cases, it concluded.
Italian cruise ship Costa Diadema arrived in Limassol through the Suez canal at 3 am on Tuesday and unloaded a passenger in severe condition who was taken to Limassol hospital, philenews reports. The patient was carried off the boat with the help of the coast guard using a life boat from the ship, while the cruise ship itself sailed off to Italy. The ship is reportedly carrying 65 Covid-19 cases, philenews said on Sunday citing Italian news agency Agenzia Nova. On board are 1,500 crew according to sources as its 4,000 passengers had been unloaded 10 days ago. Italian sources say that the ship had to head to Limassol to unload a crew member who was in “very bad condition”, as a doctor on board did not have the means, like an inhaler, to help.
Police carried out a total of 2246 checks to ensure compliance with decrees from yesterday afternoon to this morning. The decrees have been imposed to slow the spread of Covid-19. Seven were booked — four in the Famagusta district (two Malls/department stores and two coffee shops), one in Larnaca (a hunting club) one in Limassol (a bar) and one in Nicosia (cafe/restaurant), police spokesman told the Cyprus News Agency.
Banks are under political and supervisory pressure to adopt the four measures taken by the Central Bank of Cyprus aiming to mitigate the coronavirus-sparked economic shock on the island’s businesses. Lenders seem to be keen to help out but keep asking for clarifications written down in a circular that has been already sent to the Central Bank. At the same time, working groups of banks are also reviewing the government’s bill providing €2bn in loan guarantees. But again they are asking for clarifications and safeguards so as to overcome supervisory hurdles that may arise from the Single Supervisory Mechanism. However, the SSM is loosening provisions for lending along with requirements from banks under its supervision. After giving the green light to Eurozone systemic banks to use their capital cushions for a week, the SSM now encourages them to avoid setting up loan forecasts which are excessively high because this would put pressure on the flow of new loans. The SSM has also announced that the Authorities will be flexible on red loans covered by government guarantees. It also noted that they will be very flexible when discussing strategies with banks aiming to reduce non-performing loans in view of the prevailing market conditions. The Single Supervisory Authority’s position comes at a time when banks in Cyprus are concerned over forecasts and losses that their balance sheets may suffer. On Monday, Central Bank Governor Constantinos Herodotou said in a statement to state television that “the (coronavirus) cost should be divided equally.” And that the moment Cypriot banks see the Central Bank, European Central Bank and the Single Supervisory Mechanism as well as the state moving in one or another direction, they cannot stop from moving in that direction as well, they have to change speed.” Herodotou also said that he is holding a meeting with bank representatives on Tuesday in the presence of Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides in a bid to convince them to implement the measures taken.
These are the businesses that will remain open and those that will close following the President’s lockdown announcement on Monday night in effect from 6 pm on Tuesday March 24 until 6 am on April 13:
Vital businesses that will remain open are food and drink sellers (supermarkets, grocery stores, butchers, fishmongers, bakeries, pastry shops, wine cellars), pharmacies, gas stations, establishments that provide food and drink services provided they do so by delivery (restaurants, coffee shops, bars), establishments providing drive through services, kiosks and mini markets.
Also open will be private health services (clinical labs) and car wash businesses, given they apply all announced prevention measures.
The above services are not allowed to sell products sold by retail companies whose operation is suspended.
BUSINESSES WHOSE OPERATION IS SUSPENDED:
Any form of open markets, bazaars and street vendors
Building sites with the exception of social utility projects that will obtain a special permit from the Minister of Transport
Gatherings at churches, mosques and other prayer establishments is prohibited
The Easter tradition of ‘Lambradjia’ is prohibited and any such preparations will be removed by police
THE OPERATION OF ALL RETAIL BUSINESSES IS SUSPENDED EXCEPT FOR THE FOLLOWING
Businesses and workshops of disabled and orthopaedic merchandis
Businesses and workshops of medical and industrial gases and machiner
Opticians and their workshop
Businesses selling hearing aid
Car and motorbike workshop
Businesses selling tyre
Businesses selling and repairing bicycle
Businesses selling pet food or vet medicine
Telecommunication providers (for bill payments, renewal of credit, repairs and replacements of mobile devices)
Businesses selling pesticides, fertilisers and other agricultural equipment
Businesses selling cars and motor vehicles
Flower shops and plant nurseries
All retail businesses, including the above, are allowed to provide electronic or telephone commerce services with home delivery.
All retail businesses that are allowed to remain open should abide by all measures announced to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including ensuring that no crowding takes place inside stores (one person per 8 m2).