The Foreign Ministry is stepping up efforts in an effort to begin repatriation flights for vulnerable groups as early as next week, Phileleftheros reported on Thursday.
It said that after the massive task of containing the coronavirus outbreak and mitigating the impact on the economy, repatriating thousands of Cypriots is the biggest challenge facing the government.
The Foreign Ministry is on standby to receive word from the medical council set up to review applications from students with medical issues who, with others who are abroad for medical reasons, are the two groups being given priority to return under the latest updated decree, it added.
The first flight is expected sometime next week. All will be quarantined for 14 days and their return will be staggered because of the availability of quarantine facilities, the paper added.
More than 10,000 have registered on a new portal set up by the Foreign Ministry (connect2cy), students and others, who are currently in 94 countries.
The majority are in the UK (6000) and Greece (1500).
Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides told Sigma yesterday that the the ministry was waiting for the results of the medical council as well as working on various scenarios regarding students who are abroad.
“Our readiness is tied to the situation in Cyprus. As soon as the experts give the OK we will move to the next step,” he said.
The government has come under fire for implementing decrees that effectively prevent its own citizens to return to their own country.
The criticism has been particularly fierce from some parents of students.
The government has acknowledged their concern, set up networks to try and help those abroad, including with a one-off grant of €750 for students.