Policy responses for Cyprus - HSRM


Policy responses for Cyprus

1. Preventing transmission

The section on PREVENTING TRANSMISSION includes information on key public health measures that aim to prevent the further spread of the disease. It details how countries are advising the general public and people who (might) have the disease to prevent further spread, as well as measures in place to test and identify cases, trace contacts, and monitor the scale of the outbreak.

1.1 Health communication

Update 18th October 2020

At a press conference on October 7th the Minister of Health along with the Scientific committee pointed out that the outbreak of Covid-19 in recent days demonstrates that in quite a large number of cases the measures and protocols are not properly and strictly adhered to, resulting in passing the virus into the family and professional environments. The public was once again reminded of the importance of applying diligently personal hygiene and the social distancing measures. Regarding the updating of the health protocols, the Minister said that more than 90 protocols are already being updated, in order to be simpler and easier to implement. In the same press conference citizens were once again reminded that in case of any Covid symptoms, they should immediately contact their personal doctor for further medical advice (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/07102020_2.pdf).

In the wake of the growing number of new positive cases, especially among the young population, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Finance had a meeting on October 16th with representatives of employers and employee trade unions as well as the student unions, seeking their collaboration and emphasizing the importance of complying with the protocols. At the same meeting, the Minister of Health stated that if such high numbers continue to be recorded, local lockdowns could be one of the measures to follow. He also referred to difficulties in tracing, due to the increased numbers of cases (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/uploads/16102020_4.pdf).

Update 28th September 2020

In view of the beginning of the new academic year, and the customary practice of many parents in Cyprus to accompany their children studying abroad, the MoH has released on September 18th an announcement informing parents and guardians who intend to travel with their children to countries belonging to Category B (e.g. Greece, UK) of the following (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/18092020_1.pdf):
  • To limit their contacts at least 7 days upon their return to Cyprus.
  • To strictly follow the social distancing measures and personal hygiene.
  • To monitor their health status and have direct communication with their personal physician in case they develop symptoms related to COVID-19.
  • To repeat the laboratory test, if possible, 7 days after their arrival.

In addition, in an effort to reinforce the communication between the MoH and the public on issues related to COVID-19, the e-mail address [email protected] has been put into operation for citizens seeking additional and specific advice or information, particularly in relation to protocols and guidelines Further to the above, the MoH invited citizens to contact the call center 1412 for clarifications and information on the new measures

Following the large number of Covid-19 positive cases found in football, the Health Minister met with the leadership of the Cyprus Football Federation and announced additional measures as follows:
  a. Preparation of a simplified summary of the protocol to facilitate the implementation by the clubs.
  b. Repeat the information sessions to all Clubs of all categories about the provisions of the protocol.
  c. Designation by all Clubs of person responsible for the implementation of the protocol.
  d. Training of all designated persons.
  e. On-site inspections by the Health Services of the MoH in the sports facilities of all the Clubs in order to monitor the implementation of the protocol especially during training sessions (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/25092020_1.pdf).

On September 25th the MoH repeated its call to all citizens to contact their Personal Physician as soon as they develop coronavirus symptoms in order to receive medical guidance (https://www.pio.gov.cy/%CE%B1%CE%BD%CE%B1%CE%BA%CE%BF%CE%B9%CE%BD%CF%89%CE%B8%CE%AD%CE%BD%CF%84%CE%B1 %CE%AC%CF%81%CE%B8%CF%81%CE%BF.html?id=15916#flat).

Update 29th August 2020

On August 20th the MoH issued a new Decree extending the measure for mandatory use of a protective mask by the general population aged 6 years old and older.

According to the Decree the use of a mask by the general population is mandatory in indoor crowded spaces, and more specifically at the following establishments/venues: Supermarkets, bakeries, department stores, retail stores, shopping malls, churches, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other health care institutions, pharmacies, services and departments of the public and wider public sector and private businesses which receive/serve customers (e.g. banks, citizen service centers, post offices, Cyprus Electricity Authority, etc.), sports betting agencies and elevators. People not observing the guidelines of the decree will be liable to a fine of €300.
As regards employees, it is clarified that the use of a protective mask is mandatory for employees in customer service positions as follows: Public transport (e.g. bus drivers), indoor areas of private companies, departments of the public and wider public sector which serve the public, persons who work in customer service in retail businesses, delivery persons- couriers, construction workers; People working in construction must use disposable masks when traveling by car (the number of persons in a car must not exceed 2 people) (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/press/21082020_1.pdf).

On August 24th the MoH announced that according to the latest guidelines by WHO, the use of protective mask is compulsory only in indoor and crowded places for children and adults over the age of 12. However, in the same announcement the MoH recommends that children aged 6-12 should also wear protective masks (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/24082020_6.pdf).

Update 17th August 2020

On August 1st the MoH issued the following clarifications regarding the places where the use of face mask is mandatory for the general population and the employees:

For the general population masks are mandatory for all over the age of six, at the following venues:
  - Supermarkets / bakeries.
  - Department stores / retail stores / shopping malls.
  - Churches.
  - Visits to hospitals / clinics / nursing homes / other health care institutions
  - Pharmacies.
  - Organisations/departments of the public and wider public sector and private businesses which receive/serve customers (e.g. banks, citizen service centers, post offices, Cyprus Electricity Authority, etc.).
  - Betting agencies.
  - Elevators.

Failure to comply with the measure can result in a fine of €300, which is paid by the individual and not the business or the establishment.

For employees, the use of mask is mandatory in customer service positions, at the following establishments, venues and businesses:
  - Public transport (e.g. bus drivers).
  - Indoor areas of private companies, departments of the public and wider public sector which serve the public, such as citizen service centres, post offices, etc.
  - Employees at customer service posts in retail businesses such as cash desk at supermarkets, bakeries, pharmacies, public markets, retail stores, etc. as well as in butcheries, fish markets, fruit markets, kiosks, mini markets, retail trade businesses (e.g. clothing and shoe stores, cosmetic stores, etc.).
  - Delivery persons / distributors.
  - Construction workers: people working in the construction sector must use disposable masks when traveling by car (the number of persons in a car must not exceed 2 people). The same also applies when using an elevator.
  - Any other business or establishment, where the use of a mask is foreseen in accordance to the relevant protocols of the Ministry of Health (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/press/03082020_2.pdf).

Update 6th June 2020

Public information sessions were stopped on June 5th 2020. The MoH will only continue to issue daily press releases regarding the daily number of positive cases. Extensive and detailed information about the pandemic will be provided by the Advisory Scientific Committee every two weeks, instead of on a daily basis as has been the case so far. 

Update May 8th 2020

On May 8th, the MoH issued new guidelines for hospitals on cleaning, preventing congestion and implementing self-protection measures to minimise the risk of further spread of the virus to the general population following the gradual easing of restrictions (http://www.reporter.com.cy/local-news/article/676716/anatheorimenes-odiges-ga-ti-leitoyrga-ton-nosileftirion-exedose-to-ypoyrgio-ygias).

On the same day, May 8th, protective measures for the operation of open-air markets were also announced, such as the set distance between the stalls of the sellers, which should not be less than five meters and the monitoring of the entrance to the markets in order to prevent overcrowding (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/pdf/erg18.pdf). Relevant Instructions were also announced regarding the reopening of open-air sports facilities (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/pdf/erg17.pdf), as well as barber shops and hairdressing saloons. (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/pdf/erg16.pdf).

Update May 4th 2020

The MoH, in view of the gradual lifting of lockdown on Monday, May 4th 2020, announced the following on the use of the masks by workers, employees and the general public:

   • For the general population, the use of a disposable mask is recommended in closed areas such as supermarkets, shopping malls, department stores, pharmacies, banks, various departments/services of the public and wider public sector. The use of a mask is a complementary measure and does not replace the other precautions such as social distancing, hand hygiene, natural ventilation of living and working areas
   • With regard to staff, the use of disposable masks is compulsory for those working in public transportation, employees of the public and private sectors who serve the public, and people working in the retail trade sector that interact with customers.

Following a Ministerial Council decision on April 29th, the MoH will provide masks free of charge to businesses which are going to resume operations in order to cover the needs of their staff. The MoH has already announced a call for tenders for nine million surgical masks, part of which is going to be distributed private sector businesses affected by the situation. A number of masks are also going to be distributed to departments of the public and wider public sector.

In addition, the MoH in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Security, has prepared instructions for the various groups of workers who will be returning to work during the 1st and 2nd phase of the gradual easing of the measures, aiming to at ensure that the appropriate health and safety standards in their work environment are met (www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus).

Official advice regarding the necessary personal preventive measures against COVID-19, such as hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and social distancing was issued fairly early in the COVID-19 outbreak (in January 2020) through multiple press briefings, Ministerial speeches, social media posts, leaflets and posters that were placed in all health care facilities. In addition, special guidelines were prepared and sent to schools, airports and ports. Advice was also published on the Cyprus government website [www.pio.gov.cy], which has a specific page for COVID-19 [https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/], and includes instructions on measures to prevent infection, advice for travellers and answers to frequent questions. This information is also translated into Turkish, English and Chinese, while more recently guidelines regarding coronavirus symptoms and steps for protection have been translated into many other languages such as French, Arabic, Georgian, Filipino, Persian, Vietnamese etc. (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/info.html) in an effort to keep as many people informed as possible about the new pandemic. In addition, a call centre began operation on March 13th 2020, for those seeking more information on coronavirus.

On March 9th 2020, Cyprus [1] announced its first two confirmed cases of coronavirus: a 25-year-old man from Limassol who had returned from Italy and a 64-year-old health professional from Nicosia who had returned from the UK. Until April 4th, 10,154 tests have been conducted with 426 confirmed cases; of these, 10 were reported in British military bases, with 11 deaths recorded. In the occupied areas of the Republic, press reports indicate the number of confirmed cases are 88, with two deaths. In the occupied areas of the Republic, press reports indicate the number of confirmed cases are 81, with two deaths. Although there is some kind of cooperation between the Republic of Cyprus and the occupied areas, through a joint technical committee, it is difficult to assess and evaluate the situation and the measures taken in these areas.

For all health care professionals (general practitioners (GPs), specialists, nurses, dentists, pharmacists etc.) specific protocols have been developed on how to deal with suspected/probable and confirmed cases which must be immediately reported to the Unit of Surveillance and Control of Communicable Diseases, at the Ministry of Health (MoH).

On March 19th, there was a Joint Press Release by the MoH, the Health Insurance Organization and the Cyprus Medical Association providing guidelines to citizens regarding the actions that should be taken in case they develop coronavirus symptoms, encouraging them to first contact via telephone their personal doctor, and to avoid unnecessary visits to health centres, clinics or hospitals.

Since the announcement of the first two confirmed cases, there is a daily briefing by a team of experts based at the MoH, providing information about the number of confirmed cases, deaths, the number of admissions to the reference hospital and the number of patients on ventilator support at the Intensive Care Units (ICU).

Finally, the new quantitative data for Covid-19 cases in Cyprus, as at May 3rd were as follows: 64,136 tests, 872 confirmed cases (10 of which at the British sovereign bases), and 15 deaths. In the occupied areas, press reports indicate that from 14,009 tests, the number of confirmed cases are 108, with four deaths. Although there is co-operation between the Republic of Cyprus and the occupied areas through the Bi-communal Health Committee, it is difficult to assess and evaluate the situation and the measures taken in these areas.

1. All data and information in this webpage refer only to the areas controlled by the Republic of Cyprus, unless otherwise stated.