The pandemic concerns everyone and with more than three thousand cases per day in our small population, it means COVID is threatening each and every one of us, said Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela announcing the new measures decided in an extraordinary session of the cabinet on Wednesday evening.
The epidemiological indicators in the last days present a rapid deterioration with the possibility that hospitalisations will increase in state hospitals in the next few days, the Minister told reporters after his ministry announced that new infections shot to 3002 on Wednesday, surpassing every record since COVID appeared.
The minister said the positivity rate is above 2.5% and only in the last three days, 7,168 new cases were recorded within the community. “Omicron mutation is now well in the community and is expected to further burden the epidemiological situation”, he added.
Hadjipantela criticised the lack of personal protective measures and lack of measures at establishments for the spike in recent days. “Unfortunately, data indicate that many citizens do not adhere to personal protective measures while dozens of establishments and nightclubs do not follow health protocols resulting in increased overcrowding”.
He said the members of the Scientific Advisory Committee agreed to review the situation next Tuesday, depending on the outcome of the epidemiological indicators.
For this reason, the Cabinet, he said, during its extraordinary meeting, decided to tighten measures in the country’s at the republic’s entry, abolish safe pass to all those who have not completed their vaccination regime and take additional measures to limit transmission in areas where people are crowding.
With effect from 4 January to 15 January 2022, passengers arriving at the Republic of Cyprus are required to have carried out a laboratory PCR test 48 hours before their departure. Regardless of their vaccination history, all passengers will undergo a PCR laboratory test and the cost will be borne by the passenger.
From January 3, 2022, teleworking will be applied for 40% of the staff of each company or organization in the service sector. Further information will be provided on Thursday regarding essential services to be exempted.
From 30th December 2021, entrance to nightclubs, music and dance clubs, banquet venues, weddings, christenings will be allowed only upon presentation of a 24-hour Rapid Test. Entry is allowed only to vaccinated people. Citizens who received the booster/3rd dose of vaccine are excluded from this requirement.
In addition, from 30 December 2021, there will be a maximum limit of 300 persons for restaurants, nightclubs, and music and dance clubs in compliance with health protocols. People should be seated while dancing is prohibited. It is clarified that the measure for weddings and baptisms will be implemented from January 3, 2022.
From 30 December 2021, the presence of fans in stadiums is set at 50% of the stadium capacity with the mandatory use of protective masks.
Also from 30 December 2021, visits are prohibited at state and private hospitals as well as closed facilities, unless approval is provided by the management after the presentation of a negative laboratory PCR test with a 24-hour validity and only for urgent and exceptional cases. Visits to outpatient departments are allowed to patients and escorts with a negative rapid test in the last 24 hours. Individuals who received a booster/3rd dose of the COVID vaccine are excluded.
The cabinet also decided that from December 30, 2021, there will be a change in COVID-19 case management protocols and close contacts for healthcare professionals who have not received any of the vaccination doses or received two doses or one dose of the single-dose vaccine and the seven month period has elapsed and they did not receive the booster/3rd dose.
Close contacts of a confirmed case will be subjected on the 5th day to undergo a PCR and on the 6th day a Rapid test with a negative result after contact with a case to be allowed to come out of isolation. Positive coronavirus cases can undergo a Rapid test on the 6th and 7th day and if the result is negative, they should be released on the 8th day, provided that they do not show symptoms for 48 hours.
The minister also said that the cabinet recommends that citizens use double surgical masks or high protection masks (KN95 or type FFP2) and avoid the use of a cloth protective face mask.
The use of the protective mask is mandatory in all areas.
Concluding, the minister said “we must understand that it is essential to maintain the measures to protect ourselves. Only this way we will be able to return to normality the soonest”.