Newsroom / CNA
The coronavirus pandemic in Cyprus, which kicked off mildly at first with double-digit daily new cases before the second wave sent the island into unprecedented terrain with hundreds of daily new cases and the healthcare system ready to give in at any given time, can be generally divided into four stages.
The first stage was marked by the 'import' of the virus to Cyprus in March; the second saw the virus transmitted among the local community that led the island into a total lockdown; the third saw Cyprus enjoy a practically safe and untroubled summer; while the final stage was marked by the second wave of the pandemic which plunged the island into a situation of unprecedented numbers of cases and deaths.
The final week of December saw new cases reach record highs two days in a row, as after Monday's 751 new cases, Tuesday saw 907 new cases detected, though the unprecedented high likely stems from the fact that Tuesday saw a record number of 18,070 coronavirus tests conducted.
The autumn and winter months also saw the coronavirus death toll rise, with each month marking higher numbers of deaths than the one before, a trend that December has followed with 68 coronavirus deaths, 117% higher than deaths recorded in November.
The first two cases
The Covid-19 pandemic first appeared in Cyprus on March 9, 2020. On that day, Minister of Health Constantinos Ioannou announced the two cases, both Cypriots, a 25-year-old who had returned from Milan and a 64-year-old doctor who had returned from England and had failed to report his symptoms. Tracing did not produce any more positive cases while the Nicosia General Hospital closed down for 48 hours.
The first restrictions
On March 11, four more cases were recorded. The Minister of Health issued his first decree forbidding gatherings of over 75 people in theatres, cinemas, restaurants, cafeterias, bars, ice cream parlours, and event halls, until March 31. Meanwhile, the cases among medical staff increased.
On March 13, President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades in a televised national address announced further measures at entrance points and crossing points, and closed schools.
On March 14, flight cancellations began and from March 16 till April 30 only people with a negative coronavirus medical certificate could enter the Republic. Passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports were quarantined for a fortnight.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued travel advice against all trips abroad.
Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus Chrysostomos II called on the faithful to avoid going to church until April 10.
On March 21, a decree issued by the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works came into effect, banning flights for a fortnight.
The first death and the general lockdown
On March 21, the first death of a coronavirus patient, at the Paphos General Hospital, was announced. The patient had a burdened medical history.
Hotels opened for repatriated Cypriots who had been stranded abroad due to the pandemic.
On March 23, President Anastasiades announced a general lockdown from March 24 till April 13.
On March 26, the Council of Ministers approved a bill imposing fines of €150 on those violating the measures.
On March 27, the Republic of Cyprus sent Israel a quantity of Chloroquine and Israel sent Cyprus 50 ventilators.
On March 30, the Minister of Health announced stricter restrictions on movement during the lockdown, an increase of the fine to €300, and a curfew from 9pm to 6am.
On March 31, equipment to fight the pandemic arrived from China.
The battle at the Reference Hospital
On March 31, the Reference Hospital opened with additional doctors and nurses.
On April 2, the Minister of Transport extended the decree on flight bans for a further two weeks, while the Ministry of Health bought services at a rehabilitation centre in Tersefanou to take in Covid-19 patients with mild or no symptoms. It also increased tests in Aradippou and Paphos, where a spike in cases was determined.
On April 4, medical equipment and consumables were received from China for use in public hospitals.
By April 7, a total of 493 cases and 14 deaths had been reported.
On April 8, President Anastasiades announced the extension of the measures until April 30.
On April 10, the first targeted testing of public and private employees was announced, along with random checking of the general public.
On April 24, the flight ban was extended until May 17.
By April 28, 836 cases and 20 deaths had been reported.
The first easing of restrictions
On May 4, Cyprus entered the first phase of easing restrictions.
By May 5, 878 cases and 21 deaths had been reported. By May 12, there were 904 cases and 23 deaths.
On May 18, only one confirmed case was announced in Cyprus.
On May 19, the Council of Ministers decided to activate the second phase of easing restrictions.
On May 21, all schools reopened. By that date, 923 cases and 24 deaths had been recorded.
Meanwhile, flight bans were extended to May 28.
On May 22, the Council of Ministers decided to lift the flight ban for two groups of countries as of June 9 and the opening of hotels as of June 1.
The slowdown period
On May 27, no cases were reported. The cases during the summer months were zero or very few.
On June 5, Cyprus entered the third phase of easing restrictions.
On June 7, the Ministry of Health announced precautionary measures to be observed in places of worship.
On June 9, the airports reopened under new regulations.
On September 14, in unprecedented conditions, over 107,000 students returned to school.
On October 2, the Ministry of Health issued additional measures after cases were found among football players.
Emergency measures, resurgence and vaccines
On October 12, the Ministry of Health decided additional emergency measures for Limassol and Nicosia, due to the increase of Covid-19 cases.
On October 22, the Council of Minsters increased measures and imposed a partial lockdown on Limassol and Paphos, after a spike in cases.
On November 11, rapid tests were introduced.
On November 30, the Council of Ministers decided measures for and island-wide curfew from 9pm till 5am, and imposed a 7pm closing time on restaurants and cafeterias.
On December 19, two special fridges were received to hold the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines.
On December 26, the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were received.
On December 27, the first vaccinations began in nursing homes and the Reference Hospital (Famagusta general hospital).
President Anastasiades was vaccinated on December 28 and Archbishop Chrysostomos II on December 29.
On December 28, in a written statement, the Minister of Health said the health system was under tremendous pressure due to the large number of inpatients. On that day, a record number of 751 cases was announced.
On December 29, the Ministry of Health issued a decree forbidding the presence of people in houses other than the permanent residents until January 10, 2021, with the exception of New Year’s Eve, when only ten persons from a maximum of two families were allowed to be in a house at the same time. Furthermore, working from home was imposed for the public sector and strongly advised for the private sector. A new record of 907 cases was announced.
By December 29, a total of 117 persons in Cyprus had died of the coronavirus, while cases skyrocketed to 21,315.