Cyprus is ready to repatriate those who belong to the new categories allowed to return following a decision of cabinet announced by President Nicos Anastasiades earlier on Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Nicos Christodoulides has said.
He also announced that flights will be arriving in Cyprus from Germany, Salonica and the UK soon.
In an introductory statement, Christodoulides assured that plans are in place. Announcements will be made depending on the situation as it evolves and experts’ recommendations, as before.
Referring to the four new categories of people allowed to repatriate, he assured that his Ministry in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport “are ready to respond to the requests of these new categories.”
So far 16,668 Cypriots abroad in over 120 countries have registered with the Foreign Ministry portal.
Asked how many students Cyprus can accommodate with the infrastructure in place — given that all must be quarantined for 14 days — Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said various factors need to be taken into consideration such as the places available and the monitoring of people in isolation during their stay there.
This does not just have to do with whether they violate their quarantine, he clarified. Until recently, he noted, the state had placed 1,400 people in quarantine, adding that it was a huge feat as many of them had daily needs such as pharmaceutical treatment they needed.
Another important factor which needs to be taken into consideration is the necessity of everyone returning to be tested for the coronavirus.
Our capabilities, he said, are for approximately 1,000 tests every fifteen days, adding that this varies day by day and that the goal is to be able to offer the service to a lot more people.
Replying to the same question, Christodoulides said that students belonging to vulnerable groups are expected to be informed directly by a medical board today of the result of their application and that for students who are in a foundation course or in their first year of studies abroad and are living in student accommodation “we can say that preparations have been made and we hope that next week we will have arrivals from both these categories.”
Asked about delays in replies from the medical board and why repatriation has not started the Foreign Minister pointed out that repatriation has started for days now.
He said that an announcement will be issued “tomorrow morning that a flight will be arriving from Germany and Salonica bringing our compatriots who belong to the categories the President of the Republic has referred to.”
Christodoulides added that a flight will also take place during the weekend from Britain transporting Cypriots who belong in these categories from the United States, New Zealand, Switzerland, France, Holland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Denmark and Saudi Arabia.
“We are ready to start repatriation immediately,” he reiterated. There is a “clear plan which is implemented on the basis of the decisions taken,” he concluded.
Earlier, President Nicos Anastasiades announced that the gradual return of Cypriot citizens has been decided.
He cited the following categories: students residing in university residences and are registered on foundation courses or are in their first undergraduate year; Cypriots and permanent residents who were abroad for purposes of temporary employment and their work has been suspended or ended due to the coronavirus crisis; humanitarian reasons such as people who need to return to look after others who are not able to look after themselves and people of any nationality whose presence in Cyprus is needed because of their professional or scientific capacity to help combat the pandemic.
(Cyprus News Agency)