Two meetings on the economy will be held at the Presidential Palace today amid cautious optimism that the recent downward trend in new coronavirus cases will allow at least some easing of the lockdown next month.
Business and trade union representatives will attend a meeting with President Nicos Anastiades at 9.30 am. Taking part will be the leadership of the Chamber of Commerce and of the Employers Federation, as well as of the trade union confederations Sek, Peo and Deok, the two hoteliers associations (Pasyxe, Stek) and the Cyprus Investment Promotion Association (Cipa).
This will be followed by a meeting with the Technical Chamber, developers and building contractors, also today.
They take place against a more optimistic backdrop with the number of new coronavirus cases in Cyprus in single digits for two consecutive days, though the results are from a smaller number of tests.
Experts have sounded a cautiously optimistic note but say it is still too early to signal the end of the measures.
They say this week will be particularly useful in formulating a picture as tests among 20,000 people who work and are in contact with the general public are due to be completed, giving a better indication of the spread of the virus in the community.
Key factors are the infection rate, the number of people being hospitalised — where there has been a small drop, and the number of people requiring ICU care where numbers appear stable. Moreover there has not been a death for several days.
With the virus expected to be here for several more months, any future plans will have to factor in various possible scenarios, including that of a second wave.
The president is due to be briefed tomorrow during a meeting of the ministerial committee with the epidemiological team of the Health Ministry.
On Thursday, he will brief political party leaders about efforts to address the Covid-19 pandemic, plans to ease restrictive measures, once the scientific team of the Health Ministry on the coronavirus gives the green light and the government’s plans to restart the economy.
The economic impact of the lockdown is weighing heavily on Cyprus as elsewhere and authorities are working on a plan of action to gradually lift the measures, though this too will depend on scientific advice based on data due to emerge towards the end of the week.
One basic parameter for the Health Ministry is that even with the gradual return to normality, hygiene and self-protection measures will continue for some time.
Phileleftheros reports that the Health Ministry will not content itself with just the flattening of the curve, but has set the following criteria prior to a decision:
- recording and analysing the epidemiological data from the daily results
- study of the epidemiological data to determine the extent of spread in community
- analysing the transmission rate in Cyprus
- completing at least most of the 20,000 tests
- the results of the 800 samples that will be taken from a random section of the population
If the epidemiological data permit, then there may be a relaxation of restrictions on movement (for example two rather than one a day) within two weeks, the newspaper said.
Lifting the measures will be done in stages over two to three week intervals for each stage.
As a general rule, sectors with little contact with the general public such as construction will start first.
Strict hygiene measures will be required such as distance between employees, use of antiseptics, different breaks etc and there must be strict mechanisms to ensure compliance.
Tracing of contacts of positive cases should continue even after the measures are eased.