Article by Constantinos Ioannou
Minster of Health
Easter this year is very different due to the unprecedented circumstances caused by the coronavirus epidemic which has hit millions worldwide. We were forced to promptly take measures to confront the deadly virus and safeguard public health.
We told citizens the truth from day one and asked them to help contain the spread of the virus so as to allow the health system to be effective, and not experience the hospital dramas we have seen in other countries.
So far, this goal has been achieved thanks to the positive response of the vast majority of citizens, whom we, once again, thank. We have gained valuable time that allowed us to prepare hospitals and protect health professionals who are on the front line sleeplessly guarding the priceless virtue of health. We honour and thank them at the same time.
Despite global shortages, our persistent efforts enabled us to secure large quantities of personal protective equipment and consumables to safeguard nurses and health professionals as well as patients.
In addition, the treatment guidelines for adults and children were also promptly approved and we expect to see the results in the coming days. Cyprus is one of twenty countries in which the administration of antiviral therapeutic drug AVIGAN has been approved, and its arrival is imminent.
We have the adequate necessities to cope with the virus. We also have sufficient beds in Intensive Care Units, and, just in case, these will be further increase in number. We hope they will never be needed, but nonetheless we must ensure we will be ready to deal with the worst case scenario.
We are constantly consulting the World Health Organization and the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), as well as monitoring international developments, taking initiatives and constantly updating our plan of action.
Safeguarding every citizen’s life is the strong obligation of every civilized state and we prioritize this responsibility as a top priority. We are saddened by the loss of human life but at the same time this makes us even more stubborn to continue our efforts. Our thoughts are with those who are sick, suffering from the coronavirus or any other disease. This is the reason behind our daily appeals for social distancing by all. This is the reason behind the drastic measures we are applying.
The strict tracing policy we have implemented in Cyprus since the very beginning is considered to be particularly effective. It is the same one that has helped Asian states effectively fight the pandemic.
We have carried out checks on the population in areas where an increased number of cases had been identified, and a few days ago we went through extensive sampling among such populations so as to take advantage of current social isolation measures to more easily identify any asymptomatic carriers of the virus.
In the next few days, we will proceed with an epidemiological research, from which we will collect additional data on the spread of the virus.
From data collected so far we are convinced we are on the right track and, thus, drafting out plans for the gradual lifting of the restrictive measures. But it all depends on the epidemiological data.
Our decisions are, to a large degree, determined by the proposals and assessments of the state’s scientific advisory committee which strengthens the work of the Health Ministry’s Epidemiological Surveillance Unit. We cannot take hasty decisions. We have no right to be complacent. And we are certainly not going to deviate from our goal.
Under the President of the Republic’s instructions, all ministers and state machinery, in general, are constantly on alert to address the numerous challenges sparked by this difficult situation.
On behalf of all, I want to assure you that we are doing all that is humanly possible to overcome this ordeal. Once again I reiterate that our top priority is to safeguard public health and to protect each and every citizen, his family, his property, his job.
It is such a big effort that mistakes are inevitable and we call on people to be understanding. We are encouraged by the belief that we are doing the right thing. The will of the people and their support gives us strength. We are moved by financial contributions and medical equipment provided by private companies, organizations, political parties and prominent but also ordinary citizens.
We welcome the mobilization of volunteers, and are inspired by the will of our people, while the support from friendly countries fills us with optimism. All this raises the belief that we will be victorious, that we will succeed. We owe it to ourselves, to our parents, to our children. This is an Easter like no other. Let’s make it a starting point for something that will make us all very proud.