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Cyprus reports no new coronavirus cases for 1st time since March 9

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No new coronavirus cases were detected in tests on Saturday for the first time in Cyprus since March 9, when the country reported its first two cases, according to the Health Ministry.

“Out of a total of 2,414 laboratory tests, no cases of SARS-CoV-2 were detected,” the ministry said in a statement.

On May 4, Cyprus reported zero cases from the testing of local people, but on the same day it recorded two positive cases relating to people who arrived from abroad.

Saturday’s results also included testing of 160 people who arrived from abroad, and they were all negative.

Samplings are being currently taken from people working in hair and beauty salons, restaurants, cafes and bars, elementary and secondary school students, travelers from abroad, patients entering hospitals for operations or treatment and individuals who wish to be tested, according to the statement.

It said total coronavirus cases in the country stood at 927, and death, at 17, while seven more coronavirus patients died of other reasons.

The announcement was an encouraging sign for Cyprus’ plans to revive its tourism. The government decided on Friday to resume flights on June 9, initially with 19 countries, and allow hotels to reopen as of June 1.

(XINHUA)

Olawale Olukoga: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Foreign

Cyprus to reopen airports for flights from 19 countries on June 9

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Cyprus will reopen its airports for flights from 19 countries on June 9 and will allow hotels to reopen as of June 1, Transport, Communications and Works Minister Yiannis Karousos said on Friday.

Restart of flights is the most important step in stage three of easing restrictions following a total lockdown imposed in March as the coronavirus crisis worsened.

Karousos said that the Council of Ministers approved the lists of a total of 19 countries from which flights will be allowed on June 9, and decided to restore air connectivity in two phases.

“The first phase starts on June 9 and the second one on June 20, with different rules applied to people coming from each of the two groups of countries,” Karousos said.

He said the two groups were defined according to their coronavirus epidemiological status. Group A includes Greece, Malta, Bulgaria, Norway, Austria, Finland, Slovenia, Hungary, Israel, Denmark, Germany, Slovakia and Lithuania. Group B includes Switzerland, Poland, Romania, Croatia, Estonia and the Czech Republic.

The minister said that other countries will be added to the two lists depending on the development of their epidemiological status.

Karousos said that people from countries on both lists will be allowed to board a plane only after presenting a coronavirus negative certificate of a test made within 72 hours before the flight.

Cypriots and other people permanently residing in Cyprus returning to the island will be allowed to make a COVID-19 test after arrival and will be quarantined until results are returned.

People arriving from category A countries will not be required to have a test certificate after the start of the second phase on June 20, but those coming from category B countries will still be required to have a test certificate.

Karousos said people who come from countries which are not listed in groups A or B will not be allowed to enter Cyprus, unless they have a Cypriot citizenship or are permanent residents of Cyprus or have a special permit. They will be still required to have a test certificate.

In all cases, the cost for the test will be borne by the passengers.

Karousos also said that hotels will reopen on June 1 for local people before receiving guests from other countries as of June 9. Detailed protocols as to the behavior of tourists in hotels, on beaches and during tours will be issued.

Also on Friday, the authorities issued rules for the reopening of organized beaches as of Saturday, which provide for a distance of four meters between umbrellas, and only two beds under each umbrella. Beach-goers must have their own towels on their bed.

(XINHUA)

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Cyprus enters second stage of coronavirus lockdown relaxation

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Cyprus took yet another step back to pre-coronavirus pandemic normality with the lifting of all restrictions on movement, the reopening of most schools and the resumption of restaurants and other recreation spots services, officials announced on Thursday.

As of 6 a.m. local time, people drove to their jobs or to the shops without having to request prior permission by SMS. Police said they kept up their checks to the last moment, booking about 30 people for being out on the streets before the expiry of a night curfew.

Cypriot authorities said they had given more than 16 million permissions to people to go out since March 26, mostly to buy provisions or for individual training and walking a dog.

Owners of restaurants, taverns cafes, bars and pubs were busy since early Thursday morning in marking spaces and arranging tables in open spaces where they will receive customers, before resuming normal operation in about three weeks’ time.

They can have groups of no more than 10 people on the same table, but tables must have a space of at least two meters between them, which means that they can accommodate at any given time about half of the people they could receive.

Staff members will be required to wear a mask and gloves. Restaurants will have a single-use disposable menu and disinfectants on the table for people who would like to clean their plates. Single-use knives and forks will also be offered as an alternative choice to regular ones.

Bars and pubs were allowed to operate provided that they will not serve people on stools, but only to seated customers in line with social distancing regulations.

City authorities said they would facilitate recreation spots by allowing them to seat people in public space.

Cypriot Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said that despite reservations by teachers’ and parents’ associations, almost all elementary and secondary education pupils returned to their classes.

About 52,770 elementary education pupils and almost 23,000 gymnasia joined final grade lyceum students, who resumed classes since May 16.

First and second-year lyceum students will continue to be taught by distance learning.

Cypriot government spokesman Kyriakos Kousios told state television the activation of the second stage of restrictions easing was made possible by the discipline and responsible behavior by the people, who complied with Health of Ministry regulations.

He urged people to behave in the same way during the second stage so as to make possible the third stage which mostly relates to the revival of travel and tourism, one of the most important sectors for the Cypriot economy, as it contributes 21 percent to the island’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Kousios refused to confirm that airports will resume operation as of June 9, saying that a final decision will be made on Friday by the Council of Ministers.

“The scientific team has made positive recommendations for the resumption of airport operations and hotels, and what remains to be done is the fixing of dates and the publication of security protocols by the Health Ministry,” Kousios said.

State television has quoted officials as saying that hotels would reopen as of June 1 and flights in and out of airports would resume as of June 9.

(XINHUA)

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Cyprus plans to restart air travel and tourism on June 9

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Cyprus is preparing plans to restart air travel and tourism on June 9, according to government sources quoted by state television on Wednesday.

Deputy Government Spokesman Panayiotis Sentonas said President Nicos Anastasiades conducted the meeting with the scientific team advising the government on the coronavirus pandemic and the Council of Ministers, to discuss detailed planning for reopening airports and hotels.

He added that tourism will not be the same as before, as tourists will be required to behave in line with rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19, whether on the beach, in restaurants or during tours and visits in cities.

State television said that as part of preparations for the restart of tourism, reports on the pandemic situation in 21 countries will be prepared with a view of categorizing them and choosing those from which tourists would be allowed to arrive from and when.

Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides has said that detailed security protocols and travel advice will be issued for each one of the countries which will be allowed to send tourists to Cyprus.

State television said that hotels will resume operation as of June 1 for local visitors so as to prepare to receive foreign tourists as of June 9.

It added that air travel will first resume with Greece, Israel and Malta, three countries with the same epidemiological characteristics as Cyprus.

Restrictions on tourism were imposed on March 15 for an initial period of two weeks, after which a complete ban on flights was imposed.

Cyprus received almost four million tourists in 2019, with travel and tourism contributing 21 percent to its gross domestic product (GDP).

Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios has said that Cyprus would be happy to salvage 30 percent of last year’s income from tourism, including from local tourism.

On May 21, all restrictions on movement will be lifted, including a night curfew, and restaurants will start receiving customers, initially in open spaces.

Local authorities in several cities announced that they will relax regulations so as to allow restaurants to put tables in public spaces at discount fees, until they resume normal operation in about three weeks’ time.

(XINHUA)

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Cyprus activates plan for second stage of restriction easing

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Cyprus’ Council of Ministers on Tuesday activated the planning for the second stage of easing the COVID-19 restrictions as of May 21, government spokesman Kyriakos Kousios said.

Kousios said after a cabinet meeting that minor changes to the original planning were approved, relating to the opening earlier than planned of organized beaches and also of betting shops.

The reopening of ports, archaeological sites, museums and libraries was put off to June 1.

“Measures are being relaxed under the condition that people continue to take protective measures and follow the protocols issued by the Ministry of Health,” Kousios added.

Announcing just one new COVID-19 case on Tuesday, Health Ministry advisor, virologist Leondios Kostrikis, said the scientific team advising the ministry has every reason to be satisfied with the development of the pandemic.

“The excellent epidemiological picture allows us to proceed to the second phase of lifting restrictions as of Thursday,” he added.

Kousios confirmed that elementary schools and gymnasiums will reopen and that all restrictions on movement, including a night curfew, imposed on March 30, will come to an end on May 21.

Under the government’s plan, people will also be allowed to visit relatives and friends and to move freely in parks (but not in playgrounds), squares and marinas, as long as they remain in groups of under 10 people.

Restaurants will start receiving customers in open spaces and in groups of less than 10 people, and hairdressers, barbershops, beauty salons, massage and tattoo parlors will also reopen.

Religious services in churches, mosques and other places of worship will be allowed as of Saturday, along with weddings and funerals with free attendance.

Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides said that at a teleconference of European Union (EU) foreign ministers convened by his German counterpart Heiko Maas, Cyprus had been asked to provide its planning for the reactivation of tourism.

He added that services and interested organizations will receive detailed plans and security protocols by Monday for the tourism sector, which he said will restart sooner in June than originally planned.

Christodoulides said the epidemiological situation, which ranks Cyprus first among EU countries and fifth in the world, allows for dates for tourism reactivation to be brought forward.

He added that a detailed travel advice will be issued for each country, with the corresponding country also issuing its own travel advice.

(XINHUA)

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Cyprus gov’t to proceed to 2nd phase of lockdown easing

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The government of Cyprus was advised by its scientific team to proceed to the introduction of further relaxation in coronavirus restrictions following the successful application of initial easing 11 days ago, officials said on Friday.

Health Ministry advisor, virologist Leondios Kostrikis, in announcing a total of 910 COVID-19 cases after three new infections, said the situation after the introduction of the first batch of relaxation measures was very satisfactory.

“For this reason the scientific team suggested today to the political leadership of the country the further relaxation of restrictions,” Kostrikis said.

President Nicos Anastasiades presided over a meeting of half of his ministers dealing with the coronavirus epidemic, at which planning was made for the application of the second phase as of May 21.

The plans will go before the Council of Ministers on May 20.

Professor of Epidemiology George Nicolopoulos said ahead of the meeting that no significant impact on the situation had been observed after the introduction of the first easing of restrictions, when 25,000 retail shops opened for the first time after six weeks of a total lockdown.

Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou stated that it was decided to proceed with the most controversial of easing measures, the call back to school on May 21 of all elementary and secondary education pupils following the return to classes of final-year students on May 11.

Kostrikis said that the return of so many students to school at once will present a challenge for education and health authorities.

To minimize dangers, Prodromou said a COVID-19 testing program among students and teachers will be speeded up as of Monday.

As part of the second phase, all restrictions on movement will come to an end, including a night curfew, but gatherings will be allowed only in groups of no more than 10 people.

More shops, including hair salons, barber shops and beauty parlors, betting shops will also resume operation, as well as museums, libraries and archaeological sites.

Ports will also resume operation, though disembarkation from cruise ships will not be allowed.

In a move further ahead, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said a ministerial committee, in association with specialists of the scientific team advising the government, will finalize on Monday a plan to resume flights as part of the third phase from June 9 to July 13.

He said the plan will receive final approval from the Council of Ministers at its meeting next week.

Karousos said that tourists arriving in Cyprus will not be quarantined, but added that they will probably be requested to get tested 72 hours before arrival.

(XINHUA)

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Cyprus calls on Turkey to negotiate on demarcation of marine boundaries

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Cypriot Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides on Tuesday called on Turkey to negotiate on the delimitation of their marine boundaries or resort to the ruling of the International Court of Justice.

Christodoulides was responding to Turkey’s denunciation of a joint declaration issued by five countries on Monday condemning Turkey’s drilling for natural gas off the southwest shores of Cyprus.

“If Turkey trusts its legal positions it should respond to the request of the Republic of Cyprus and consent to a recourse to the International Court to resolve the issue of marine boundaries,” Cyprus state radio quoted Christodoulides as saying on its website.

Christodoulides said Turkey is taking advantage of the fact that international attention is turned to the coronavirus pandemic and resorts to what he called “destabilizing activities.”

Cyprus, Greece, France, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates issued the declaration, denouncing “the ongoing Turkish illegal activities in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone and its territorial waters, as they represent a clear violation of international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

Cyprus News Agency reported that the declaration was issued after a teleconference between the foreign ministers of the five countries, during which they discussed regional issues.

A statement by the Turkish foreign ministry strongly condemned the declaration and accused Cyprus of disregarding the rights of the Turkish Cypriots, who live in seclusion in the part of Cyprus placed under the control of Turkish troops in a 1974 military operation.

The statement said Turkey is drilling in areas within its continental shelf and that its activities are in line with international law.

A Turkish drillship is currently active off the Cypriot shores with the intention of carrying out a natural gas drilling.

The European Union has termed Turkey’s actions near the coasts of Cyprus as illegal and imposed sanctions, including targeted ones on Turkish individuals personally involved in drillings.

(XINHUA)

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Cyprus keeps COVID-19 infection rate low in second week of lockdown easing

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At the start of the second week of easing the lockdown rules in Cyprus, the number of new coronavirus infections was minimal and this was “especially encouraging,” the scientific advisor to Cyprus’ Health Ministry, Leondios Kostrikis, said on Tuesday.

Kostrikis said that only two COVID-19 infections were confirmed in the 24-hour period before Tuesday afternoon, which raised the total number of infections to 903.

However, he said it was worrying that the “minimal” number of infections reported in the last few days was confirmed in what he called “special groups,” a term referring to people either entering hospitals for operations or elderly people who are being tested before being accepted into nursing homes.

But Kostrikis added that this did not negate the fact that the relaxation of restrictions on May 4 did not lead to a spread of the coronavirus to the wider community.

Restrictions on movement will be entirely lifted on May 21 and will be followed by measures leading to a return to “normality” by mid-July.

A public hospital official said that 16 deaths could be directly attributed to COVID-19.

(XINHUA)

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China donates masks to bi-communal technical committees in Cyprus

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Chinese Embassy in Cyprus on Tuesday donated 1,200 face masks to the bi-communal committees in Cyprus, which is made up of Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

The contribution was “a special donation to the bi-communal technical committees for their better protection at work in facilitating the political process of the Cyprus problem as restrictions gradually lift,” Chinese Ambassador Huang Xingyuan told Xinhua.

The donation was also announced by the United Nations mission in Cyprus, which said that the donation was handed by Ambassador Huang to the Coordinator of the Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General (OSASG) on Cyprus, Sergiy Illarionov.

“The masks were donated by the Chinese Embassy in Nicosia to be used as protective equipment by the bi-communal technical committees. Mr. Illarionov thanked the Embassy for its generous support on behalf of the bi-communal technical committees,” said a message posted on the UN Cyprus social media.

(XINHUA)

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Final school year students in Cyprus return to classes after two-month shutdown

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Cyprus made another big step back to normality by calling final year students back to classes on Monday to have a normal school year conclusion, Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said.

The move is the latest in a flurry of relaxation of two-month coronavirus restrictions. Last week, Cyprus kick-started its economy by allowing 25,000 retail shops and the construction sector to resume operation.

After visiting one of the schools in Nicosia, Prodromou said that 95 percent of final year students, or 6,900 boys and girls, were present in scaled-down classes in an alternating system. Half of them will attend school for three days and the other half for two days, with the two groups changing days in the coming week.

A smaller number of students having vulnerable people in their residences, such as aged parents or people carrying a disease, were left out of the classes and received teaching by teleconference.

Prodromou said that schools have taken all security measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19, such as having only 12 people in a class instead of the regular 20 to 25, sanitization and social distancing during short breaks.

The measures are in line with the advice of the scientific team advising the Health Ministry on managing the coronavirus pandemic, he added.

The students will complete the school year at the end of May and will then take school diploma and university entry examinations starting on June 11.

Prodromou said the success of the first day back to school presaged the application of another plan to have all other secondary education students and primary education pupils back to classes on May 21.

A Health Ministry spokesman said that ahead of the move, a sampling of 20,000 students and teachers will start this week to spot possible infections.

Health Ministry advisor Leondios Kostrikis said the scientific team will keep a close watch for possible infections in schools.

After the first COVID-19 case was detected on March 9, the Ministerial Council on March 10 decided to close schools.

(XINHUA)

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Cyprus’ GDP to contract by 6.9 pct under baseline scenario: report

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Cyprus’ gross domestic product (GDP) will contract by 6.9 percent in 2020 under a baseline scenario, the Research Center of the University of Cyprus forecast on Monday, pinning the blame on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The baseline scenario assumes an adjustment period of two months and a reduction in external demand for tourist services in Cyprus from April to August, translating into a decrease of 40 percent in annual tourist arrivals,” the center said in an emailed report.

Under an adverse case scenario, which assumes a longer adjustment period and a sharp reduction in external demand, the contraction in real GDP could be as severe as 13.1 percent, said the report.

The report said that the two-scenario case was examined because of the high uncertainty surrounding the outlook.

It said the sectors of retail trade, transportation, accommodation and food service activities and the sector of arts, entertainment, recreation and other service activities will suffer the largest losses.

“Significant output losses are also estimated for construction, manufacturing, as well as administrative and support service activities,” it added.

(XINHUA)

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Economic sentiment in Cyprus sees record fall due to coronavirus crisis

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The economic sentiment in Cyprus registered a record drop in April as a result of the coronavirus crisis, suggesting a grim outlook for the economy, according to a survey by the University of Cyprus Economics Research Centre on Monday.

According to a survey which is partly funded by the European Union, the economic sentiment indicator dropped by 21.9 points from March when the index fell by 12.1 points compared with the previous month.

The research center said in an emailed statement that the April Economic Indicator declined below the long-time average, suggesting a grim outlook for economic activity.

It added that the decrease was driven by worsening confidence in services, retail trade and industrial sectors, as well as weakening consumer confidence.

The service sector, including tourism, is the largest contributor to the country’s gross domestic product with a share of over 70 percent, data showed. The decrease in the Services Confidence Indicator resulted from businesses’ less favorable views than before, and major downward revisions in demand expectations, the statement said.

The Construction Confidence Indicator remained unchanged from the negative level in March, as more optimistic employment expectations were offset by worsening assessments of the orders.

The statement added that the Consumer Confidence Indicator dropped because of downward revisions in consumer expectations about their financial conditions and economic conditions in Cyprus, as well as by weaker intentions to make major purchases.
(XINHUA)

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Cyprus on edge of relaxing measures: health expert

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A Cyprus Health Ministry advisor indicated on Saturday that authorities could be on the edge of relaxing restriction measures after announcing only six new COVID-19 cases.

Health Ministry advisor Leondios Kostrikis said the number of new cases strengthens the very good image of testing results over the last few days, adding that the epidemiological picture was particularly encouraging.

“If these test results continue over the next days, the state will be able to activate the plan for the gradual lifting of restriction measures,” said Kostrikis, a professor of virology.

The government has drawn a four-stage program for the gradual ending of movement restrictions and the restart of the economy, but has not announced a starting date.

Kostrikis said three of the new COVID-19 cases came from the tracing of the contacts of known cases, one from incoming travelers and two from broad programs for sampling frontline workers.

Kostrikis said total coronavirus cases rose to 810 and deaths directly attributed to COVID-19 remained at 14.

No new cases were announced in the Turkish-controlled part of Cyprus, with deaths standing at four and infections at 108.
(XINHUA)

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Cyprus reports over 800 coronavirus cases

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Cypriot Health Ministry announced one more coronavirus death and nine new cases on Friday, raising the death toll to 19 and total cases to 804.

According to the Nicosia scientific director of state health services (Okypy) Marios Loizou, the mortality is 2.2 percent of all patients and 1.9 per 100,000 people.

“These numbers are far below the international average,” he added.

Commenting on the nine new cases, Health Ministry advisor virologist Leontios Kostrikis said “epidemiological data remain very encouraging, but as we constantly say, we still have a long way to go.”
(XINHUA)

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Fifth batch of medical supplies arrives in Cyprus from China

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The Cypriot Health Ministry announced on Friday that the fifth batch of medical consumables from China has arrived in the country.

The shipment, including protective masks, testing swaps and shoe covers, landed on Thursday and will be distributed to the State Health Services hospitals, the ministry said in a statement.

Like previous batches of medical supplies, part of the consumables arriving on Thursday was a donation by China, Chinese Embassy in Cyprus told Xinhua. To date, about 35 tons of medical supplies have landed in Cyprus via weekly flights from China.

The Health Ministry expressed its “warmest thanks” to China for the donation, said the statement.

In an article posted on Wednesday in the Embassy’s social media account, the Chinese Ambassador to Cyprus, Huang Xingyuan, praised Cypriot authorities for achieving “remarkable results” in curbing the coronavirus pandemic.

He said what has been achieved by Cyprus is a “miracle as compared to the entire European continent, which has fallen as a whole and seen a relatively high rate of infections.”

“Dawn is ahead, but there is still a long way to go before achieving a full victory against the pandemic,” the ambassador said, adding that he was confident that Cyprus will win the battle.

Cyprus reported five new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 795.
(XINHUA)

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Low number of new COVID-19 cases in Cyprus supports relaxation, says advisor

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Cypriot Health Ministry’s top advisor said that Thursday’s small number of new COVID-19 cases supports the relaxation of restrictions imposed by authorities to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Health Ministry advisor, virologist professor Leondios Kostrikis, said there were only five confirmed coronavirus cases out of a very large number of samplings, raising the total number of infections to 795.

“Today’s small number of new cases out of a large number of tests, in association with the findings of recent days, leads us to the safe conclusion that we are far away from a scenario we would not wish,” Kostrikis said.

On April 28, the scientific team in collaboration with the inter-ministerial committee will inform President Nicos Anastasiades of its final proposal, suggesting how the relaxation of restrictions should be applied and sectors of the economy to be allowed to reopen.

“Should we continue on this track, the relaxation of restrictive measures will be done with more security and at a quicker pace,” Kostrikis said.

The council of Ministers will meet on April 29 to make the final decision to start the economic comeback.

Anastasiades earlier in the day presided over a meeting of political leaders whom he briefed on the strategy to be followed in lifting restrictions.
(XINHUA)

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Cyprus’ new COVID-19 cases spring back to double digit, relaxation goes ahead

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Cyprus’ new COVID-19 cases sprang back to a double-digit number on Tuesday, but the increase relative to previous days was not such as to put off plans for the gradual relaxation of restrictions.

Government spokesman Kyriakos Kousios said that the council of ministers will convene on April 29 to discuss plans still under consideration for relaxing restrictions and gradually bringing businesses back to life.

He was speaking after a series of meetings with groups of employers and trade unions, during which President Nicos Anastasiades promoted the government’s plans for a gradual restart of the economy.

Health Ministry advisor, virologist professor Leondios Kostrikis said 1,325 tests on Tuesday found 12 positive for coronavirus, compared to six on Sunday and five on Monday, raising the total number of cases to 784.

Kostrikis said that Tuesday’s results and the numbers of the few previous days are in line with the assessment of the scientific team advising the Health Ministry and show that the situation is moving on a very good track.

“We are glad to say that general picture we have in front of us is very positive,” he added.

He said he would be happy if he could say that this good track is non-reversible, as the numbers show that there are still hotbeds of infection within the community, which must be traced and isolated.

Eleven of the new cases, he said, were people who were traced as contacts of known coronavirus cases.
(XINHUA)

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Cyprus takes first steps to relax coronavirus restrictions, restart economy

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Cyprus took its first steps on Tuesday to gradually relax coronavirus restrictions and restart the economy, with the government saying that it expects an economic recession.

President Nicos Anastasiades presided over meetings of trade unions, employers’ associations, hoteliers, contractors and big land developers to hear their views before announcing plans for the gradual relaxation of restrictions.

Strict restrictions, including an unprecedented peace-time night curfew, are in force until April 30.

Government spokesman Kyriakos Kousios said Anastasiades will be meeting political party leaders to hear their views before releasing government plans, probably by the end of the week.

The spokesman said that Anastasiades will also have a crucial meeting with scientific advisors of the government on Wednesday to review developments of the pandemic.

Scientific advisors said they were heartened by the announcement of single-digit new coronavirus cases over the last two days.

Chinese Ambassador to Cyprus Huang Xingyuan also tweeted: “Relieved to see confirmed cases in single-digits. Hope will see soon the end of COVID-19.”

Contagious disease specialist Michael Voniatis said the confirmation of just five new cases on Monday was an indication that the pandemic is slowing down, allowing for plans to gradually relax restrictions.

Kousios said that the government expected the economy to enter into a recession in the coming months, given the fact that the tourist season of this year is all but lost.

Travel and tourism account for about 21 percent of Cyprus’ 22 billion euros gross domestic product, as projected before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. ( 1 euro = 1.08 U.S. dollars)
(XINHUA)

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Cyprus accuses Turkey of piracy after Turkish drillship docks off shores

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Cyprus on Monday accused Turkey of piracy after a Turkish drillship docked off its southwestern shores with the intention of carrying out a natural gas drilling in an area where Cyprus has exclusive economic rights.

“The specific maritime area spans exploration blocks 6 and 7, which have been duly licensed to the European companies ENI and TOTAL. The hydrocarbons exploration and exploitation of these blocks constitute exclusive sovereign rights of Cyprus,” said a statement issued by the Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus.

State television reported that the drillship Yavuz set off on Sunday night from the port of Tasucu in southern Turkey and reached its destination later on Monday afternoon.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week that Ankara would continue drilling and even deploy a third drillship in areas claimed by Cyprus.

He said Turkey had told the European Union (EU), the United Nations and even Greece that the Greek Cypriots should not have carried out any unilateral activities in the Eastern Mediterranean before reaching an agreement on a fair distribution of revenue with the Turkish Cypriots, but Ankara’s position was ignored.

Cypriot state television said “Turkey’s escalating and provocative actions, equate to utter contempt for the EU itself,” urging “all natural and legal persons involved in Turkey’s illegal drillings to immediately terminate any form of cooperation or assistance in any illegal activities within Cyprus’ maritime zones.”

It added that the Republic of Cyprus will continue to defend its interests and rights using all legal means at its disposal, on the basis of international and European law.

High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and his team are in contact with the Cypriot and Greek authorities concerning the movements of the drilling vessel Yavuz, Cyprus News Agency reported, citing European Commission Spokesman Peter Stano.
(XINHUA)

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New COVID-19 cases in Cyprus at single digit for 2nd day, down to five

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The Health Ministry of Cyprus announced single digit coronavirus cases for a second day running on Monday, giving rise to optimism that they could get down to zero by the end of the month, when a total lockdown decree expires.

A ministry statement said only five new positive cases were confirmed out of 1,660 tests, which gave the lowest ratio of positives tests, at 0.29 percent, bringing the total confirmed cases to 772. Death toll in the country stood at 12.

The Health Ministry statement said that it was a positive development that the program of testing 20,000 frontline workers returned just two positive cases and the program for testing health professionals did not return any positive cases.

The ministry also said that among the 16 confirmed coronavirus patients being treated in the primary coronavirus treatment hospital, only three people were in the intensive care unit, and in all hospitals eight people were on ventilators in a critical but stable condition.

The scientific unit advising the Health Ministry is expecting to see the impact of a large number of violations of the lockdown regulations on Easter Sunday, when police said over 400 people were booked for being out in the streets without a legal excuse.

Authorities said they are planning a gradual relaxation of restrictions but have not decided yet when this will apply.
(XINHUA)

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New COVID-19 cases in Cyprus fall to single digit, total at 767

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COVID-19 cases in Cyprus for a 24-hour period dropped to a single digit for the first time since March 25, with the Health Ministry confirming six new cases on Easter Sunday.

This raised the total of cases announced by the Health Ministry to 767.

The ministry noted that the new cases came out of 1,803 tests, a ratio of 0.33 percent, the lowest ever.

Authorities in the Turkish controlled part of Cyprus did not announce any new cases, with their total remaining at 108 and death toll staying at four.

The grand total for the entire eastern Mediterranean island stands at 16 deaths and 875 cases.

Cypriots celebrated Orthodox Christian Easter, their biggest and most solemn religious holiday, by staying away from churches, where clerics dressed in imperial-like vestments chanted midnight mass in classical Greek before empty stands.

However, hundreds of insubordinate teenagers played cat and mouse with police as they took advantage of darkness to hide in buildings under construction to let off thousands of firecrackers as church bells tolled.

Police reported six arrests and one case of injury, in which a 17-year-old boy lost three fingers of his left hand when a firecracker went off prematurely.

The Fire Brigade also reported that it responded to scores of calls to put off Easter bonfires lighted by teens, mostly in the cities.

But in general, people heeded bans on movement, only getting out for a walk in the immediate vicinity of their homes in the daytime.

President Nicos Anastasiades took off time from his duties to read a story for children on Easter Sunday for the Fairytale Museum, in a bid to “lighten the hearts of thousands of children who remained confined to their homes.”

In a video posted on the museum’s Facebook page, Anastasiades read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

At the end of the tale, Anastasiades reminded that “I too am a grandfather and these days, I miss my grandchildren, just as you of course miss your grandmother and grandfather.”

He called on children to be patient and to be certain that “days of happiness, Luna Parks, football, gatherings, birthdays will come. All these things you have had to be deprived of.”
(XINHUA)

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