Cases Jump, Cyprus Clamps Down Again With COVID-19 Measures

Αssociated Press

Tourist walk at southeast resort of Ayia Napa, in the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Saturday, May 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Entering the dog days of summer in August, without the masses of tourists expected because of the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, Cyprus has had to reimpose restrictions to deal with the spread of the Coronavirus.

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas extended measures limiting access to public venues in an attempt to hold the cases, including requiring everyone over 12 to to present a SafePass before entering public offices, hospitals and shops where 10 or more people are present, including employees.

A SafePass proves that the bearer has received both doses of a licensed vaccine, or has been infected with Coronavirus in the past six months and has recovered, or holds a negative PCR test, said the Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Under current rules, those over 16 with a pass can can enter public offices and private venues where over 20 people are present. The new regulations will remain in force until the end of August.

Earlier in July, Germany's state broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) reported on the resurging COVID-19 in Cyprus, which, like many countries, has gone back and forth between tough and lenient measures that didn't work.

Some 65 percent of Cypriots have received one dose of vaccines but only 55 percent is fully vaccinated, less than the 70 percent needed to beat back the pandemic and there is a hard-core element of anti-vaxxers and people on the island defying health measures.

The young especially have shunned getting shots, the result being that more than half the COVID cases are those aged 20-59, which led the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to put Cyprus in a higher risk category for visiting.

Dr. Zoi Dorothea Pana, a member of the Advisory Scientific Committee on COVID-19, told DW then that, “Cyprus' epidemiological situation seems to have worsened. However, the test positivity rate and the cumulative incidence is partially influenced by the fact that Cyprus performs a significantly higher daily number of tests in relation to total population." 

But the rise in infections and reluctance of those 18-30 to be inoculated led the government to adopt measures aimed at getting people to be vaccinated, including the SafePass that began July 9.

Free rapid antigen tests were ended as of Aug. 1 in a further bid to get people to be vaccinated for pay for PCR or rapid test every 72 hours.