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Coronavirus: Schools close, stricter rules for arrivals from UK as measures stepped up

Schools closed for a week on Friday as tougher measures came into force to contain the spread of coronavirus in Cyprus.

The government decision is for all schools at all levels, public and private to close for a week, though experts told CyBC on Friday morning this may be extended.

Indoor gatherings of more than 75 people have been prohibited, museums have closed, events cancelled and the public has been urged to only go to government and municipal offices if  absolutely necessary.

The decree setting a maximum of 75 people applies to cinemas, restaurants, cafes and other indoor establishments and police have been checking compliance. Yesterday, 120 establishments were checked. A Nicosia cafeteria was found to have more than 75 people and the manager was booked, philenews reports.

Ten cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Cyprus and four of the patients have been taken to Famagusta Hospital and Paralimni which has been designated as the referral hospital for the virus.  The hospital is being slowly cleared of other patients to release beds for coronavirus cases should they be needed.

The remaining six are in self-isolation at home with mild symptoms.

There are another two confirmed cases in the Turkish occupied north where authorities have introduced tough measures, including prohibiting entry to a number of nationalities.

With four of the 10 cases having come from the UK, the Health Ministry late on Thursday night amended travel advice, moving the UK to category 2 requiring mandatory self-isolation for all passengers who come from there at home for 14 days. The new rules are effective from Saturday, March 14.

President Nicos Anastasiades will this evening  make a televised address regarding the country’s response amid indications that additional measures may be announced.

The Finance and Labour Ministries are meanwhile working on a support package to help the economy, companies as well as workers and families affected by the measures.

Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos told CyBC on Friday morning that a cruise ship that had been prevented from docking in Israel had asked to come to Cyprus, informing authorities that there was a passenger with health problems on board.

At the president’s instructions, the ship was notified that it could drop anchor outside the port at the anchorage and that passengers could not disembark.

Authorities were later notified that the ship — which has about 800 passengers most of them Britons on board and had left from India — would not be coming to Cyprus but would continue on to Malta.

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