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Update – 26/03/2020

  • The Health Ministry announced on Thursday that another 14 people have tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 146 (including three in the British Bases). According to the update from the Ministry of Health, the new confirmed cases are:
    • 8 found through tracing of the contacts of people who were found positive to Coronavirus
    • 4 are people who had returned from trips to Europe
    • 1 person from Paphos Hospital
    • 1 whose history is being investigated
  • 76 of the 146 confirmed cases are from contact with other people found positive to Coronavirus.
  • A young infant tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday evening in Nicosia, while COVID-19 lab test results were still pending for another baby. A three-month baby boy, who was being treated in a negative pressure room at Makarios Children’s Hospital in Nicosia, tested positive for the novel coronavirus after it emerged there was contact with a confirmed known case. Reports said the boy had contact with his grandmother, but it was not immediately clear who was the confirmed case who had contact with the baby.
  • The RoC Ministers’ Council met on Thursday in order to decide on a series of financial and other measures to be submitted by the government in order to tackle some of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in the country. The suggested bills will be put into effect following their approval by the Parliament of Cyprus that meets tomorrow.
  • Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides on Thursday announced a 9 month moratorium on loan instalments in order to bolster households and businesses and stave off unemployment . “The battle we are waging will be judged by how successful we are in protecting bankruptcies by improving liquidity and preventing unemployment,” he said. At a press conference with Central Bank governor Constantinos Herodotou, the minister said that the crisis caused by the coronavirus was affecting 260,000 employees and more than 60,000 companies, putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk from bankruptcies. “The aim is to subsidise the market, not the banks. The aim is to help the real economy.” Petrides said. Effectively, the banks will channel this liquidity and the money will be used to pay wages and suppliers, he said. He said that it was decided:
    • There will be a suspension by law and by decree of the repayment of loans and interest for 9 months. This would cover companies, individuals and the self-employed who were up to date with their obligations. The moratorium will be re-assessed after 9 months.
    • The government will provide guarantees of up to €2b for new low interest loans, of which €1.75b for loans and €250m to subsidise part of the interest. The loans will be for periods of between three months and six years.
  • The RoC Ministers’ Council on Thursday approved a bill allowing authorities to impose €150 fines on violators of the decrees issued on the basis of the Quarantine Law, while a second bill given the green light authorizes certain cases to go to court which will be able to impose a prison sentence and/or a fine of up to €3,000.
  • Moving to give hard-pressed tenants a temporary respite, the Council of Ministers approved a bill suspending evictions until May 31 for non-payment of rent. The bill will cover non-payment of rent after March 1.
  • After over two weeks of discussions between the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Labor, the Central Bank, the Association of Cyprus Banks and other financial entities to minimize the impact of coronavirus on the Cyprus economy, white smoke has emerged with all parties agreeing that payoffs for all types of loans are to be suspended for nine months. The European Banking Authority, in its announcement on Thursday, seems to have also triggered this decision, as it said that any loans with payments past due as a result of the coronavirus crisis will not be considered non-performing loans.
  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak is unavoidable, Deputy Minister of Shipping Natasa Pilides said on Thursday, expressing hope that industry will bounce back as it will continue to serve global trade. “I believe the impact will be unavoidable both on the Cypriot economy and on Cyprus shipping through the financial results of the shipping companies which unfortunately will be affected,” Pilides told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA). The shipping and ship management industry in Cyprus is estimated to generate around seven per cent of the island’s GDP. Noting that shipping will continue operating, the Deputy Minister added “we hope that we will overcome the crisis and we will recover.”
  • Cyprus could be close to reaching the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic based on the data to date, but there was absolutely no room for complacency, an expert said Thursday. Dr Leondios Kostrikis, professor of biotechnology and virology at the University of Cyprus and member of the health ministry’s advisory committee on the virus, suggested Cyprus could be close to the peak of the epidemic, based on the figures to date. “It seems that very soon, if all goes well, we will reach the peak of the epidemic,” he told the state broadcaster CyBC. Kostrikis however, struck a note of caution since it was difficult to tell what the future had in store. “But under no circumstance does this mean we should be complacent,” he said. Kostrikis said the experts would have a better picture of the situation in the coming days.
  • President Nicos Anastasiades was driven around the streets of the capital to check first-hand that the public was complying to the new partial curfew measures, stating he was ‘very satisfied’ with the enforcement of the stricter COVID-19 protection measures. Anastasiades was toured around Nicosia streets on Wednesday, Government Spokesman Kyriakos Koushos said, “without heavy escort, sirens and flashing lights”, as is usually done in such occassions. He added that the President was “very satisfied” with the implementation of the measures restricting movement.
  • The 8998 SMS system to secure permission by exception to leave the house is running smoothly after coming back into operation a little after 7 pm last night, deputy minister for research and innovation Kyriakos Kokkinos told CyBC radio on Thursday morning. He said that by 8.15 pm, about 15,000 message requests had been sent, speculating that in many cases it was people just checking to see it worked. He added that a number of requests were rejected because those sending them did not follow the correct procedure. The system has the capacity to accept a large number of calls, but urged the public not to abuse the system.

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