The bicommunal Technical Committee on Health that convened via teleconference on Wednesday, with the participation of epidemiologists of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot side, discussed the situation on both sides of the divide with regard to the way the COVID-19 pandemic is addressed.
However, the Turkish Cypriot side has not presented so far an epidemiological report on the situation in the Turkish occupied areas, whereas the Greek Cypriot side sent to the Turkish Cypriot side a second updated epidemiological report about the situation with regard to COVID-19 in the government-controlled areas of the Republic.
Greek Cypriot co-chair of the Committee Leonidas Phylactou told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that a detailed report is being drafted and will be sent to the Greek Cypriot side when ready. The Greek Cypriot sent an updated report before today’s teleconference, he noted.
He also said that the Greek Cypriot side presented the categories of countries from which travelers can visit Cyprus after the prohibitions on passenger flights have been lifted, and that on its part the Turkish Cypriot side also informed them about the categories of countries drafted for visits from abroad to the Turkish occupied areas of the island and what applies for each category.
With regard to the inclusion of Turkey in category A of the countries in the Turkish occupied areas, Phylactou said that their understanding is that Turkish Cypriots criteria in this case were not only the epidemiological data, but also their bonds and relations with Turkey and the aid which this country provides to the occupied areas. He noted that the position of the Turkish Cypriot side is that they will monitor the situation closely.
As regards the measures to be taken at crossing points, he said they discussed the negative test to be presented by those passing through them and said that the Turkish Cypriot side did not inform them about any changes with regard to announcements it has made so far on the crossing points issue. They also said that students who arrive in the occupied area remain in quarantine for 14 days and that they have so far carried out 8,500 molecular tests, he noted.
Phylactou said that the members of the Advisory Scientific Team of the Health Ministry, who participated in the teleconference, are expected to brief President Nicos Anastasiades, about what has been discussed during the teleconference on Friday.
Asked if the discussion will continue at the Committee, he noted that he will be in contact with the Turkish Cypriot co-chair to arrange a new meeting when this is required, adding that it would be good to continue the discussion.
On his part, member of the Advisory Scientific Team and Professor of microbiology and molecular virology of the University of Nicosia’s Medical School, Petros Karayiannis, who participated in the teleconference, told CNA that it seems that Turkish Cypriots have not yet gathered all their data or do not have the experience to analyse them and this is why they have not presented their epidemiological report yet.
“Since we asked them to do so they should have done it within 15 days,” he noted.
Asked about the situation in the occupied areas with regard to the coronavirus, according to what they heard today, he said that it seems that for the time being there is no problem. “On the other hand Turkish Cypriots want to be ready in case of a new outbreak and they want the airports to be ready to re-operate,” he added.
He also noted that “we asked them to send us the list with the categorization of the countries in order to compare it with our own”.
Karayiannis also said that they discussed certain things about the re-opening of the crossing points and that they will discuss about it again, recalling that any decisions on the issue will be taken at the political level.
As regards the inclusion of Turkey in category A of the countries in the occupied areas, he said that Turkish Cypriots seem to be concerned by this as well, but this is not something they could voice publicly.
“We asked them how they will ensure that there will be no problem and they said that everyone who arrives to the occupied areas needs to present a negative COVID-19 test,” he added.
He also noted that the Turkish Cypriot side seems to follow the instructions given by the WHO and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Lastly he noted that they are expected to brief President Anastasiades on Friday about today’s teleconference.