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Cyprus Confirms First Two Cases of Coronavirus, Including Doctor

Αssociated press

A bus passes outside of the health ministry in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, March 9, 2020. Cyprus' Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou during a statement to the press has confirmed the first two cases of COVID-19, coronavirus, in Cyprus. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA - The first two cases of coronavirus were confirmed on Cyprus, one said to be a doctor who had contact with patients and waited days before reporting symptoms, making it more difficult to trace others he may have been in contact with.

Both patients – males – had traveled from abroad, the first a 25-year-old man who had returned from the hard-hit northern Italy region and the second, the health professional, a 64-year-old who returned from Britain on March 3. Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said it was “regrettable” the second patient, who developed symptoms on March 3, only reported to authorities on March 8, said Kathimerini Cyprus in a report.

“This does complicate efforts by the ministry on the tracing we need to do on the contacts he had over the past five days,” he said.

The health professional works at a public health facility in the capital Nicosia with a number of Cypriot news sources identifying him as a doctor without revealing the name, although it was said he works in the heart surgery ward in the country’s biggest hospital.

Authorities said they were working closely with the health professional to trace patients, family members and other health professionals he may have been in touch with although it wasn’t said if they were able to track them down.

A 65-year-old German tourist tested positive for coronavirus in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus, according to Turkish-Cypriot media who said the woman arrived on March 8 with a group of 30 tourists and developed a fever the next day.

She was in quarantine in a specially designated area, officials said while the other tourists were being kept isolated at their hotel.

Nicosia is a divided capital separating Cyprus, with Turkish-Cypriots having occupied the northern third since an unlawful 1974 Turkish invasion. The city has a number of crossing points but four were shut down to further try to contain any spread of the virus.

Cyprus riot police used pepper spray on March 7 to thwart Turkish-Cypriot protesters trying to shove their way through a barricaded crossing point, with one Greek-Cypriot police officer hurt in the melee.

The Cypriot government closed four of nine crossing points along a 120 mile, United Nations controlled buffer zone, justifying the move on public health grounds so that medical staff could screen for potential coronavirus carriers crossing from the breakaway, Turkish-Cypriot north, to the internationally recognized, Greek-Cypriot side.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)