NICOSIA – Children and students as young as six will be required to wear masks and be tested for COVID-19 on Cyprus in a further attempt to beat back the pandemic that’s lingering as only some 48.1 percent are fully vaccinated, far short of the 70 percent benchmark recommended by doctors and scientists.
The resistant Delta Variant has especially driven up cases and there remains a hard-core group of anti-vaxxers as in other countries who don’t believe the shots are safe or effective or are part of an international conspiracy to alter their DNA or control their minds.
Cyprus as of Nov. 23 had recorded 131,028 cases since the pandemic broke out in March 2020 and 590 deaths and the news agency Reuters reported that authorities are turning toward checking the young now.
From Nov. 29, children aged 6-11 will be required to undergo weekly screening for COVID-19, and wearing masks will be mandatory, Health Minster Michalis Hadjipantelas said.
A “safe pass”, which is a certificate of vaccination, won’t be valid any longer as of Dec. 18 if seven months have lapsed from receiving a second shot of most doses unless they get a booster shot.
That’s because the efficacy of the vaccines begins to wane after that period of time and even the fully vaccinated are at risk again of being infected by the unvaccinated, including skeptics and those afraid to take the shots.
“Only through cooperation and individual responsibility can we overcome the threat of this virus, and save Christmas without the imposition of additional measures,” Hadjipantelas said in a statement.
As has Greece, Cyprus doesn’t require mandatory vaccinations but instead has put limits on where the unvaccinated can go, and there is a requirement for those not protected to be tested every 72 hours before entering public places, including bakeries, supermarkets, banks and public offices.
Self-testing kits will be made available to the population from Dec. 13, with unvaccinated persons having to pay for the service as part of a campaign to persuade them to be inoculated since it’s not required.