Loan payments to banks on performing loans (PLs) are now suspended until the end of the year. Parliament approved by majority, the government’s loan payment suspension bill, with a number of amendments. The bill calls for the suspension of all loan payments and interest on loans for individuals, the self-employed and businesses for a period of 9 months. Loan payments are now suspended until December 31 2020. A total of 31 MPs voted in favour and 24 against. DISY and DIKO voted in favour, while AKEL, EDEK, the Green Party, the Alliance and ELAM were against. The moratorium on loan instalments aims to bolster households and businesses battered by the coronavirus crisis and stave off unemployment. Finance minister Constandinos Petrides will be issuing a relevant decree tomorrow.
Central Bank Governor Constandinos Herodotou made clear that loan payments suspended (both housing and consumer loans), will not be immediately payable following the end of the period of suspension.
The House which convened under strict safety precautions, postponed the discussion of a second bill which provides for €2 billion in state guarantees to banks in order to grant low interest loans to the self employed, as well as small and medium sized businesses, hardest hit by the crisis.
One person has died and another 35 people have tested positive for Covid-19, the Health Ministry said on Sunday. This brings the total number of deaths to six and the total number of confirmed cases to 214 (including five in the British Bases). Doctor Marios Loizou said that the man who died was aged 68 years old and was being treated in the ICU of Nicosia General Hospital. The average age of the victims is 64. Of the six, four had underlying medical conditions. The dead are five men and one woman.
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou on Sunday expressed concern over the large increase in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases saying tracing had shown that the virus was transmitted to family and friends by people who had failed to self-isolate. His statement came following the announcement that another 35 people have tested positive for coronavirus, the biggest jump so far in Cyprus.
An infected elderly tourist who was hospitalized in a Turkish Cypriot hospital has died, marking the first coronavirus death in the northern part of the divided island. Turkish Cypriot media reported on Saturday that a 67-year-old male tourist from Germany died in a north Nicosia hospital after being infected with the Covid-19 disease. Two more have tested positive in Turkish-held north Cyprus, bringing the total to 64, the Cyprus News Agency reports.
So far, a total of 2068 applications have been submitted online for special parental allowance, Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou said on Sunday afternoon. The scheme is for parents of children under 15 or of children with disabilities who have been obliged to stay home and look after their children because of the closing of the schools. Special criteria apply. The applications went online last night, after Friday’s approval by the House of Representatives of 10 bills in a package of measures to protect employees, businesses and the self-employed from the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic. The Labour Miniustrry has also asked those who may qualify for any of the schemes to submit their bank details so that if approved, the funds can be transferred. Emilianidou said that some 34,000 have already submitted their bank details.
An unspecified number of confirmed coronavirus cases were diagnosed at two Bank of Cyprus branches in Nicosia, it was reported on Sunday. According to Politis, which reprinted what the paper said was a circular to staff, all management protocols have been activated and all appropriate measures have been taken, including the closure of the branches for immediate disinfection of the premises. “We have the first confirmed cases of coronavirus in our bank,” the circular read. “Colleagues and clients who may have been exposed to the virus will receive personal information from the competent authorities and the bank will be in constant contact with them.”
57 per cent of people completely agree with the measures the government has taken so far surrounding the Covid-19 outbreak, while 80 per cent have seen a spike in their social media use to stay in touch with loved ones, according to a poll published by daily Politis on Sunday. The survey was based on a sample of 1,753 respondents. On the downside, only 10 per cent said they believed they would receive excellent healthcare if they test positive for Covid-19, while 47 per cent said it would be satisfactory, 29 per cent that it would be average and 14 per cent said the care would be outright bad.
More than half of people said they believe healthcare professionals are excellent in the way they are carrying out their duties during the pandemic, with 59 per cent in support, while 36 per cent said it is satisfactory. Five per cent said it was not satisfactory while one per cent said it was not satisfactory at all.
In terms of their job prospects, 65 per cent of respondents said their jobs or businesses were seriously threatened because of the coronavirus pandemic while 10 per cent said there was no threat at all. Of those that felt seriously threatened, 83 per cent were self-employed.
A majority – 60 per cent – believe the effects on the economy will only improve after nine months or more, 26 per cent said it would be within nine months, eight per cent said three months and six per cent said in less than three months.
As far as the lockdown is concerned, 76 per cent said they would face the situation positively while 22 per cent said they would cope but with difficulty. Stoicism was seen most strongly in the 65+ age group where 87 per cent said they would face the measures positively, followed by the 35-44 age group at 76 per cent. It was the 18-24 age group that appeared hardest hit with 31 per cent saying they would have difficulty dealing with the constrictions.
Asked about the timing of the government’s response, 57 per cent said it should have reacted sooner, 41 per cent that it reacted on time and two per cent that the measures were too soon. People aged between 18-24 overwhelmingly believe the government responded on time, at 62 per cent, while 67 per cent of people aged between 55-64 as well as 66 per cent of people 65 and older said the government should have acted sooner.
Only 9 per cent of respondents said they had no sense of fear, with the rest ranging from extremely fearful to slightly fearful. Not surprisingly, among those in the most fearful category, only five per cent were aged 18-24 while 23 per cent were aged 65+.
On the controversy over whether people should take holy communion, 72 per cent completely agreed with the view should not take holy communion while 74 per cent agreed with measures restricting church attendance. The majority of agreement came from the 65+ age group with 85 per cent in support while 18-24 had the lowest percentage of agreement at 52 per cent. Nonetheless 83 per cent said their religious beliefs have not been shaken.
Most people believe the Covid-19 pandemic will be contained in May or June, with 29 per cent respectively. Twenty one per cent said it would happen after July, 14 per cent said it would be contained in July while seven per cent believes it will happen as early as April.
US ambassador to Cyprus criticised China, saying it had special responsibility to be transparent over coronavirus pandemic. In an Opinion Piece, US ambassador to Cyprus, Judith Garber mentioned that: “The fact that the outbreak originated in Wuhan, Hubei province – and that the Chinese government was the first to know about it – is indisputable. The virus had been circulating in Wuhan since December, or earlier, according to Chinese government accounts. Doctors on the front lines frantically tried to treat the first patients even as they notified provincial and PRC government authorities of the emergence of this new “Sars-like” virus. The Chinese government had a special responsibility to be fully transparent about what Chinese experts knew. Yet by early January, Chinese authorities had already ordered virus samples destroyed. Even worse, Chinese authorities actively censored and punished brave Chinese people who tried to tell the truth”. Read the Opinion Piece here.
Police booked 379 drivers and pedestrians in the past 24 hours for breaking a stay at home decree that allows people to leave the house only for special reasons. A police spokesman told the Cyprus News Agency that police had carried out 8955 checks from 6 am yesterday to 6 am today. The offence carries an automatic €150 out of court fine. Police however have the authority to take perpetrators to court which under amendments approved on Friday can impose a sentence of a fine of up to €3000 and/or prison.