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Update – 28/05/2020

  • There were two new Covid-19 cases in Cyprus the Health Ministry said, both found through tracing the contacts of confirmed cases (60 tests today), out of a total of 2,602 tests carried out on Thursday. This brings the total number of positive cases to 941. Commenting on today’s results, Dr Leontios Kostrikis said that the picture is particularly optimistic, halfway during the current stage two of the easing of restrictive measures. “The data we have in front of us create a particularly optimistic picture. It is evident that the virus cases are restricted to levels which allow us to implement with greater certainty the plan for the gradual lifting of restrictive measures,” he said. And he added: “We are in the middle of the second phase of the relaxation of restrictions from which further decisions will depend. We therefore reiterate our call that we all remain careful and are not complacent.”
  • The Thursday report of the Health Ministry’s Epidemiological Surveillance Unit has found that as of May 26 64.8% of all hospitalised Covid-19 patients (114 people) were male. In total, 176 people with Coronavirus (18.7% of total cases) received hospital care, and 141 patients (80.1%) were discharged alive from the hospital. The median age of hospitalized patients was 62 years (IQR: 49-73 years). Figure 6 shows the total number of first hospital admissions by date.
  • Overall, 32 cases (18.2% of all hospitalized patients) have been admitted to ICU, of which three were still in ICU (as of May 26th). A total of 27 ICU patients (84.4% of all ICU patients) have been intubated, of which three (100% of all patients currently in ICU) are still intubated. The overall median length of stay in ICU (for all 32 ICU cases, considering those still in ICU until May 26th) was 11 days.
  • A total of some 106,000 coronavirus tests have been carried out in Cyprus so far — that is equivalent to 12,094 per 100,000 population which is the second highest rate in the EU after Malta, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Thursday. Tests have so far cost the state €6.766 m. There is currently a ceiling of €85 per test, although some agreements with labs have been for €65 which Ioannou said was the second cheapest in the EU after Romania’s €63. The minister was briefing the House Health Committee on coronavirus testing in Cyprus. Auditor general Odysseas Ioannides, who also attended the meeting, is looking at government contracts with private labs to carry out the tests. Ioannou said that Cyprus has diligently followed tracing of positive cases, he added.
  • Welfare state spending in Cyprus spiked to €513 million in the first four months of 2019 as the state launched support programmes to safeguard employment amid the coronavirus outbreak. According to data published by the Treasury, welfare spending for the period of January – April 2020 amounted to €513.6 million marking a steep increase of 108% compared to €246.9 million in the respective period last year. Welfare spending peaked in April to €169 million compared to €70 million in April 2019. The increase in welfare spending is associated mainly with the Covid-19 outbreak and the payments for the National Health Scheme. Furthermore, the Ministry of Labour ranked first, concerning spending among central government services and departments with expenditure amounting to €153 million in April. For the period of January – April 2019 the Ministry’s expenditure reached €407 million compared with €330 million in the respective period of last year, data by the treasury show. Minister of Labour Zeta Emilianidou has told the Parliament that the Ministry paid €219 million from mid-March to Mid-May in various schemes to safeguard employment due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Furthermore, the central government budget (excluding state-owned enterprises and local authorities) generated a deficit of €294 million for the period of January – April 2019, compared with a surplus of €283 million in the same period of 2019, due to lockdown measures, increased spending and taxation deferrals. State revenue declined by an annual 13.5% in January – April 2020, while state expenditure rose by 16.5% in the first four months of 2020, according to the state treasury.
  • Officials have published hygiene and other protocols for hotels as the island’s tourist industry navigates new rules aimed at safeguarding public health amid the coronavirus outbreak while making it possible for guests to enjoy a holiday. Hotels can open from June 1 although many are still waiting on a clearer picture regarding flights once airports open on June 9 as they seek to gauge interest among foreign holidaymakers. Cyprus’ deputy tourism minister Savvas Perdios has said that Cyprus is aiming at about one million foreign visitors this year – some 30% of last year. Incentives and other programmes are being drawn up to encourage domestic tourism which traditionally represents only about 4% of overnight stays. Regarding important markets like the UK, Russia and Sweden, Perdios told Reuters he expects in early July the situation there will allow their travel to Cyprus. His comments coincided with the publication of a destination protocol for tourism partners in the form of a 14 point FAQ covering the main queries regarding travel and holidays in Cyprus. Foreign media were quick to pick up on the undertaking by Cyprus to cover the costs of any tourist who tests positive for the coronavirus while on holiday here. Under the plan, Cyprus will cover lodging, food, drink and medication for Covid-19 patients and their families. Patients will only have to pay for the taxi ride to the airport and the flight back home. A 100-bed hospital will cater exclusively to foreign travelers who test positive while a 500-room “quarantine hotel” will be reserved for patients’ family members and other close contacts. In publishing the hygiene protocol, the health authorities said this was the minimum that must be implemented.

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