NICOSIA — As Cyprus’ Health Ministry says that a new variant of COVID-19 was found on the island, a visiting Chinese official said his country – where the worldwide pandemic broke out – will offer any help that’s needed.
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the offer when he met with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides during a stopover in Cyprus ahead of his trip to Africa, China’s state run CGTN broadcaster reported.
The minister said that the friendship between the two countries has advanced through their mutual support during the fight against COVID-19 and China will always stand with Cyprus, the report added.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Cyprus relations and Wang said that China hopes Cyprus, as a member of the European Union (EU), can help advance sometimes tense China-EU relations.
Christodoulides congratulated China's victory in fighting the pandemic that has much of the world in its grip and said that the people of Cyprus will never forget the help offered by China in stemming the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Cypriot foreign minister said the government wants tighter relations with China, which has been accused by critics of trying to use its weight with countries in the EU to make stronger political and economic incroads.
Cyprus’ Health Ministry said the Institute of Neurology and Genetics identified the variant VOC 202012/01 in one of 24 samples collected from individuals who had contracted COVID-19 in the last week of December, the Associated Press reported.
The ministry said that the new variant had been identified in 12 of 19 samples from COVID-19 infected persons who had arrived on Cyprus from the United Kingdom – where it was first discovered – between Dec. 6-20.
Cyprus, with a population of around 900.000 on Jan. 4 announced 665 new COVID-19 infections out of nearly 13,500 tests, raising the overall tally to 24,639 cases. Deaths as a result of the coronavirus reached 133.