News Local Current situation indicates 2nd stage of relaxation can go ahead

Current situation indicates 2nd stage of relaxation can go ahead

As things stand now and barring a reversal in the epidemiological situation, Cyprus can move to stage two in the gradual easing of the lockdown, one of the government’s coronavirus experts told CNA on Wednesday.

Associate professor Constantinos Tsioutis, who is a member of the scientific team advising the government on the coronavirus outbreak, said that with the current situation, there was no reason to believe that this would not happen.

Cyprus took the first step in easing the lockdown on May 4. Phase two, which includes scrapping restrictions on movement, the return of all levels of education to school and the reopening of hairdressers and catering establishments — but only outdoors, starts on May 21.

Tsioutis said the epidemiological situation remains at good, low levels.

“Even though we are in the second week of the relaxation, we have not seen an increase, which is positive,” he said.

But the team is waiting until the end of the week for a clearer picture so as to better evaluate the first phase of the relaxation to allow a safe transition to stage two.

The team has set a number of epidemiological criteria to review the outbreak and should one of these sound the alarm, they will review whether to amend some of the measures or intervene in some way.

A meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades at the Presidential Palace on Friday with the team of advisors to review the situation will be decisive.

“We will review the epidemiological situation based on specific findings and will discuss stage two step by step and if these measures can be implemented. We will also discuss what specific measures may be needed depending on the place or process included in stage two,” he added.

People are in the main disciplined and what is of particular importance is strict adherence to personal hygiene measures, he added.

Schools are sensitive and require special care, but Tsioutis said he not have specific fears as the various services are well organised and the incidence of the virus among children in Cyprus as abroad is quite low.

“So we are starting on a very good foundation. The close monitoring must continue and in the event that some cases or other problems are found, then various procedures must be immediately activated to prevent further transmission,” he said.

Asked whether he anticipated a second wave of the virus in autumn, Tsioutis said that people must get used to living with the coronavirus.

“We have no reason to believe that coronavirus will disappear either in summer or next winter and we must continue to implement all the measures we are implementing now under any conditions and any stage of the relaxation process.”

Mathematical models suggest that most likely there will be a new wave of coronavirus as well as other infections in autumn.

“But what we are doing now and what we are learning is bolstering our readiness for a possible second wave in autumn. It is difficult to foresee the size and extent but what is positive is that we will have gained much more knowledge and experience. And possibly, medicine will help us more by then as regards treatments and maybe vaccines.”

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