NICOSIA – The growing global shutdown over the COVID-19 virus has seen many Cypriots outside the country trying to find health certificates they need to be allowed back in their homeland which also has set a 14-day quarantine for arriving travelers.
Entry to Cyprus is only permitted to citizens and legal residents who present a recent health certificate from an approved accredited organization and or a laboratory that is not more than four days old, as the government tightened restrictions.
Paphos residents Victoria and James Hughes were on vacation in Kenya and said they can’t get the needed documents to come back to their home, the Cyprus Mail reported on their plight and that of others.
“Kenya doesn’t have enough coronavirus testing kits and are only testing children and the seriously sick,” Victoria Hughes told the paper, adding that the Cypriot government has to understand that, travelers are not able to ‘just walk in to a medical centre and get tested.’
“There are just not enough kits in many countries. We are obviously very aware this is a very serious world wide problem, but we just want to get home safe and sound. We are happy to self-isolate and follow the rules, it’s just that this was all so sudden,” she said
The couple contacted a Paphos travel agency who have now rebooked them on a flight to the United Kingdom where they can stay with family until they can get tested, the paper said.
Cruise ships that should have disembarked in Limassol were also heading to the UK, carrying many Cypriots who weren’t allowed to get off and get to their homes and face more difficulty returning later.
A popular Paphos travel agency alone is arranging to bring home 100 Cyprus residents who have found themselves stranded on all sorts of holidays including cruise ships.
“This is an ever changing situation and we have been working on it since mid January,as it all started in Asia and we had clients there or booked to go there,” Daniel Essex of Century Travel said as many airlines have already stopped flying to the island.
Other Cypriot residents have taken to social media to illustrate their problem and some wrote that laboratories listed by the government as approved facilities have no idea why they are on the list, as they don’t carry out coronavirus tests.
“The recommended laboratory does not test for coronavirus and we were also told that no-one in Belgium will test people unless they have severe symptoms due to shortage of test kits,” posted one desperate, stranded family.
Another traveller in his 70s, who said he ran out of money, said he was told the Cypriot government won’t help them financially to get back, the paper said.
“Why should we be kept out of our country, it’s our home and what are we expected to do? It’s like a living hell, we just want to go home,” he said.