Policy responses for Cyprus - HSRM

Cyprus


Policy responses for Cyprus

1.5 Testing

Update 18th October 2020

On September 25th the MoH announced the random sampling of 7,000 football players (from all Categories of the Cyprus Football Leagues except from those of the First Division), and of 1,777 residents and workers in old people homes. In addition 500 tests are to be performed at Dasaki Achnas village where very recently a remarkable increase in new cases was recorded (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/25092020_3.pdf).

Further to the above, on October 8th the MoH announced the random sampling of 3,000 citizens living in several villages in Larnaca and Ammochostos district. The sampling will take place with the help of the mobile units in an effort to identify asymptomatic cases and reduce the spread of the virus in these communities (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/08102020_1.pdf).
A total of 427,518 tests have been performed as of October 16th (48,000 per 100,000 population) (https://Covid19.ucy.ac.cy/).

Update 28 September 2020

The Council of Ministers decided on September 15th that, as part of the measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, 7,000 laboratory tests will be performed from a total of 27,000 football players participating in all leagues. The responsibility for program development and exams distribution has the Cyprus Football Federation in collaboration with the Epidemiological Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/15092020_3.pdf).

On September 23rd, due to the increasing COVID-19 cases in the Larnaca district, apart from the new stricter measures referred above, the MoH announced 3,000 random tests in the district. The testing will be carried out by mobile units (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/23092020_10.pdf).

In addition, on September 25th the MoH announced the free testing of 1,777 employees and residents of nursing homes and similar structures, in an effort to identify asymptomatic cases and protect vulnerable groups of the population (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/25092020_3.pdf).

A total of 357,416 tests have been performed as of September 22nd (40,805.6 per 100,000 population (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/pdf/ep22092020ien.pdf).

Update 10th September 2020

On September 8th the MoH, following the Decision of the Council of Ministers of the 21st of August, announced the commencement of random laboratory testing with mobile units. The first 5000 tests will target young persons, 18-40 years of age, outside catering establishments, bars, etc., since random tests have shown that most COVID-19 cases detected recently were persons belonging to this specific age group. The MoH encourages people to participate in the testing (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/8092020_8.pdf).
A total of 323,311 tests have been performed as of September 8th (36,654.9 per 100,000 population) (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/pdf/ep8092020ien.pdf).

Update 29th August 2020

On August 20th the MoH announces that the maximum fee charged for carrying out a laboratory examination for the SARS-CoV-2 is set at €75 for the molecular test. The revised maximum price is valid from 21st of August 2020 (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/press/21082020_2.pdf).

On August 21st the Council of Ministers approved the proposal by the Minister of Health for the testing of 5,000 persons at areas where a large crowding of people is observed (bars, restaurants, malls, universities). The testing will be repeated every two weeks with the aim of capturing the epidemiological picture in the community. The first 5,000 tests will target young persons, 18-40 years of age, outside catering establishments, bars, etc., since random tests have shown that most COVID-19 cases detected recently concerned persons belonging to this specific age group.

In addition, was decided the carrying out of random checks in schools, State Health Services Organization, hospitals, nursing homes and other indoor shelters, mainly school workers and students, health professionals and the remaining personnel of public hospitals, as well as for workers and inmates of nursing homes and other indoor shelters, in cooperation with the competent Ministries and Services. Priority will be given to persons returning from holidays and trips, in an effort to minimize the risk of having outbreaks in such places.

Finally, people returning from a trip are urged to repeat privately the laboratory examination 7 days after their arrival, even if they have undergone a laboratory test at the airport with a negative result. People experiencing any of the symptoms (coughing, fever, breathing difficulty, loss of the senses of taste or smell) before the lapse of 7 days, are obliged to call immediately their personal doctors and follow their instructions (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/press/21082020_8.pdf).

As at August 20th 30,698.4 tests per 100,000 population have been performed (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/pdf/i2082020en.pdf).

Update 17th August 2020

In order to safeguard public health and the effective monitoring of the epidemiological picture molecular testing of random samples of passengers on selected arriving flights is being carried out. Specifically, from June 9th, when the airports reopened, until August 2nd, a total of 27,334 passengers underwent a laboratory test as part of the random sampling carried out on passengers from Category A and B countries (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/04082020_5.pdf).

Moreover, in an attempt to determine the real extend of the transmission of COVID-19 in the community, the MoH announced that during the period August 5th - 20th a random sampling of 10,000 people will also be conducted. The sample will be distributed as follows: Nicosia: 3900, Limassol: 2800, Larnaca: 1680, Paphos: 1070, Ammochostos: 550 (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/06082020_5.pdf)
A total of 239,630 tests have been performed as of August 11th (26,266 per 100,000 population) (https://covid19.ucy.ac.cy/).

Update 27th July 2020

Since the onset of the pandemic and until July 24th, 190,921 tests for COVID-19 have been performed, that is 21,335 tests per 100,000 habitants ranking Cyprus in the 4th place after Luxemburg, Denmark and Malta (https://covid19.ucy.ac.cy/).

On July 25th the Cyprus Health Minister announced that due to the increased number of the recent COVID-19 confirmed cases with no epidemiological connection, the coming days a randomized testing on extra 3,000 people across the island will take place (http://www.cna.org.cy/WebNews-en.aspx?a=78bd6076f5c748a6a0dfd7fa5fb839bc).

Update 15th July 2020

Until July 9th 19.329,5 tests per 100,000 habitants have been carried out (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/pdf/i9072020.pdf)
On July 14th the MoH, following the recommendations of the Scientific Committee, and taking into consideration the fact that the majority of new COVD-19 cases in the last days were travelers arriving to Cyprus, decided to increase the random sampling at airports from 300 tests per day to 600 (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/14072020_3.pdf).

On the same day, the MoH issued a new Decree according to which all asylum seekers will be tested for COVID-19 before entering the reception centers. Respectively all prisoners will be checked for COVID-19.

Update 5th July 2020

On July 1st the Council of Ministers approved the random testing of 1000 newly enlisted servicemen in the National Guard. Priority will be given to those that did not participate in the program of the 20,000 tests of the Ministry of Education Culture, Sports and Youth (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/1072020_2.pdf).
As of June 25th 17,243.7 tests per 100,000 habitants have been carried out (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/pdf/i25062020en.pdf).

Until July 5th 164,980 molecular detection tests (PCR), have been performed (18,835 per 100,000 population). With these numbers, Cyprus ranks fourth among EU member-states, after Luxembourg, Malta and Denmark.

Update 24th June 2020

On June 15th, the free-of-charge laboratory testing of 10,000 employees working in companies that have been restarted since June 1st (e.g. libraries, hotels, gyms, museums, restaurants, gyms etc.) has begun (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/15062020_1.pdf). Until June 22nd 337 employees have been tested (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/22062020_1.pdf).

A total of 143,602 tests have been performed as of June 16th (16,394.8 per 100,000 population) (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/pdf/ep1606ien.pdf)

Until June 24th 151,521 molecular detection tests (PCR), have been performed (17,297 per 100,000 population). If we remove those who for some reason did the test two or more times, it can be said that about 15% of the population of Cyprus living in the areas controlled by the Republic of Cyprus has been tested for coronavirus.

Update 6th June 2020

On June 3rd the Council of Ministers decided to subsidise 10,000 additional laboratory tests for employees in areas / businesses that have been reactivated since June 1st as part of the second phase of the strategy for the gradual lifting of restrictive measures, as well as to persons returning to work within the third phase, which is determined by a relevant Decree (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/3062020_5.pdf).

A total of 120,298 tests have been performed as of June 2nd (13,734 tests per 100,000 population) (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/pdf/ep206ien.pdf). The latest figures (as of June 7th) report 131,476 tests, (15,009 tests per 100,000 population). This means that 15% of the population living in the areas controlled by the Republic of Cyprus has been tested for coronavirus.

Update 24th May 2020

In an attempt to reinforce the measures for monitoring and control of the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 in the community, the Council of Ministers decided on May 19th, to expand laboratory testing (the cost will be covered by the MoH) to specific groups of the population and more specifically: a) to all persons to be admitted to residential premises, homes and shelters; b) to special categories of patients who will be receiving treatment or hospital care such as surgery, endoscopy and immunosuppressive treatment (chemotherapy, organ transplantation, immunotherapy etc.) (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/press/20052020_4.pdf). A similar programme for free testing of vulnerable groups of people has been in effect since April 30th, and since May 15th 1,100 samples have been collected.

On the same day (May 19th) the Council of Ministers approved the proposal to conduct 500 laboratory tests for SARS-CoV-2 for lawyers, judges and judicial officers working in the courts of the Republic of Cyprus (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/19052020_3.pdf).

According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth, the programme of 20,000 free tets for schools is proceeding according to  schedule. Until May 22nd, 5,500 tests have been carried out in primary schools, gymnasiums, lyceums, technical schools and private schools.

Update 14th May 2020

In view of the reopening of retail businesses and construction companies from May 4th 2020, and within the framework of the wider policy of mass testing of the general population implemented by the Government, the Council of Ministers adopted the proposal of the Minister of Health to conduct an additional 20,000 laboratory tests on employees in the retail business, including those of the food and beverage sector (14,000 tests) and construction companies (6,000 tests). Testing for these workers began on May 4th. Sampling will take place either by using mobile units on construction sites or by arranging appointments at private laboratories (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/6052020_2.pdf).

Moreover, on May 7th, the Council of Ministers, due to the reopening of schools, decided to cover the cost of 20,000 tests for students and teachers on a nationwide basis. Testing will be voluntary. Teachers will be able to visit one of the approved laboratories for testing while for the children the test will be carried in school yards via mobile units, provided that parents or guardians give their written consent. (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/7052020_7.pdf).

The process of sampling tests of 20,000 students and school workers including teachers began on May 13th (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/13052020_1.pdf). According to the data, by May 17th, 1,103 tests were performed and 4 persons were found positive in SARS-CoV-2.

Within the framework of the second phase of the strategy for the gradual lifting of restrictive measures, as well as the wider policy for mass testing of the general population, the sampling of 2,500 workers in barber shops and beauty and hairdressing saloons as well as 7,500 employees in restaurants, will start on May 18th and will end on June 5th.

On May 14th the MoH announced that the new list with the approved laboratories for the molecular test for coronavirus has been expanded; the new list includes 16 laboratories all over Cyprus (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/press/14052020_1.pdf).

The number of tests is increasing day by day. A total of 87,410 tests have been performed as of May 17th (10,283 per 100,000 population), compared to 66,876 on May 5th.


The case criteria for defining possible cases requiring testing have changed throughout the course of the epidemic. In chronological order, possible cases were defined as:

Either
• Category 1: Asymptomatic travellers returning from Wuhan (and later Hubei Province) in China, Iran, Daegu or Cheongdo (Republic of Korea), or Northern Italy
• Category 2: Symptomatic travellers returning from a country subsequently deemed at risk (e.g. Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, and subsequently Italy).

Or
• A contact of a confirmed case (not a suspected case)

And subsequently as:
• Any patient entering the public hospitals.
• People that are self-isolated or are in quarantine and present symptoms.
• Contacts of confirmed cases.
• As has already been mentioned, Cyprus is moving towards the testing in the community. So any patient with fever or persistent cough can go and be tested.

COVID-19 laboratory testing capacity has grown, bringing the total number of tests conducted by April 4th, to a total of 10,154 or 8,410 per million population. Initially, all tests were conducted in one centre (Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics - CING). As a result of the new guidelines set by the MoH for more testing, a public hospital laboratory and 11 private ones have been licenced to perform testing. It is expected that in the coming days, the daily number of tests will further increase, with the participation of the licensed private laboratories.

Initially, suspected cases had to visit Emergency Departments of public hospitals in order to be tested in isolated rooms. Later special clinics were set up outside the emergency care units, performing testing upon appointment. The testing is carried out on an appointment basis at the licensed private laboratories as well. Also, since the beginning of March, COVID-19 surgeries have been set up in all six districts of Cyprus, staffed by doctors and nurses, to take fluid specimens from suspected cases, referred by their personal doctors.


Update 18th April 2020

Taking into consideration the availability of consumables and the importance of carrying out more laboratory tests, the Council of Ministers on the 8th of April decided the following: (i) to carry out an epidemiological study at national level with a randomly selected sample of 800 persons in order to assess the extent the virus has spread to the community, but also to compare the percentage of the active infection cases among different age groups and areas throughout the country. A similar procedure has already been followed in Paphos district and Aradippou municipality; (ii) to carry out a study with a sample 20,000 citizens, on the basis of the Decrees issued by the MoH, who continue working, either in the private sector or in the broader public sector, including the National Guard. This study is in progress and by April 18th, 7,890 laboratory tests had been performed; (iii) samples will also be taken from all those repatriated on the basis of the gradual and controlled repatriation program.

Update 26th April 2020

In addition to the 20,000 tests on employees, of which 16,007 have already been completed by April 26th, the government has decided to cover the cost of conducting 2,000 additional tests on professionals working in the food and beverage supply chain and nursing homes (400 tests), which could not be served through the 20,000-employee control program. The aim of the new initiative is to benefit small and medium-sized enterprises that employ up to 15 people in supply chain positions.

Update 11th May 2020

The number of tests is increasing day by day, placing Cyprus among the group of countries with the highest number of tests per 100,000 population. Until May 5th, 66,876 tests have been carried out (7,635, 1 per 100,000 population) (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/pdf/en7052020.pdf).

On May 8th, the MoH issued a new degree which sets a new maximum charge for a molecular test for coronavirus at 85 euros (not including VAT), compared to 115 euros which was set under a previous decree. (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/diat/32.pdf).

Update 24th May 2020

The latest number of tests as of May 24th is 101,596 (11,952 per 100,000 population), compared to 87,410 on May 17th. This means that approximately 12% of the total population has been tested for the virus.

Update 31st May 2020

On May 29th, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth announced that 11,200 out of 20,000 scheduled tests have been carried out at elementary schools, gymnasiums, lyceums, technical schools and private schools (https://www.pio.gov.cy/ανακοινωθέντα-άρθρο.html?id=14000#flat).

On May 27th the Minister of Health, addressing the parliamentary committee on health, announced that 12% of the population in Cyprus has been tested for COVID-19 and a total of €6,766,000 has been spent on diagnostic tests (http://www.cna.org.cy/WebNews-en.aspx?a=390d3b31e28542298ba39533a569f925).

A total of 105,929 tests have been performed as of May 26th (12,093 per 100,000population) (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/en/pdf/ep2605ien.pdf). As of May 31st, 117,321 tests have been performed or 13,485 tests per 100,000 population, meaning 13.4% of the total population of Cyprus have been tested.

Update 14th June 2020

Until June 14th, 142,028 molecular detection tests (PCR), have been performed (16,213 per 100,000 population). This means that 16.2% of the population of Cyprus living in the areas controlled by the Republic of Cyprus has been tested for coronavirus.