Turkish Cypriot ministers agreed on several additional coronavirus protection measures on Friday during their third emergency session on the unfolding pandemic.
So far, five coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the north. Four were German tourists in the same group while another person, described as a Turkish Cypriot male, had flown from the UK nine days ago.
Kudret Ozersay, chief of foreign affairs, told reporters after the session that the north will be freezing the granting of residency permits for the next 30 days, particularly for persons over the age of 60.
As a second measure, Ozersay said the Turkish Cypriot tourism ministry would be sending a letter to all hotels on Friday, instructing hoteliers to stop organizing any group tours and trips of over 10 persons.
Third, the ministers agreed to ban trips abroad for public servants, who will need to request permission from high ranking officials in order to be allowed to leave the country. Ozersay noted that permission will only be granted in cases where it is absolutely necessary.
Following the closure of all schools, kindergartens and universities, the Ministers agreed to also shut the police academy.
Ozersay added that a session will also convene in the coming days to assess potential economic consequences of the virus, and to decide on any measures.
North shows determination to contain coronavirus outbreak
So far, authorities in the north have showed a swift and strict response to the coronavirus outbreak which first emerged in the north on Monday, when a 65-year-old German tourist tested positive for the virus.
Immediately after the news were announced, three hotels were placed in lockdown, the rest of the group of some 30 tourists who had travelled from Balingen with the confirmed case were isolated, primary and secondary schools were shut, universities soon followed suit, and all public spaces including checkpoints were disinfected.
Authorities in the north then moved to ban mass gatherings to prevent the spread of the virus, which the World Health Organisation declared a pandemic on Tuesday.
On Thursday, the Turkish Cypriot cabinet moved to close two crossings, those of Strovilia and Limnitis, until March 22, a move that was later censured by the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci, who said the decision was taken after he left the meeting.
The north on Thursday also moved to ban entry to citizens and travellers by road, air, and sea from 22 countries. These included Italy, Iran, Iraq, South Korea, China, France, Spain, Germany, Greece, US, Switzerland, Japan, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, Qatar, Bahrain and Australia. The measure is in effect until April 1.