Critics including medical professionals are raising questions over the handling of the coronavirus risk at ports of entry in the Republic of Cyprus.
(Click here for an update to the story)
According to Kathimerini Cyprus, the second and latest suspected case of coronavirus, known officially as Covid-19, raised multiple concerns in the medical community for the way authorities handled the specific case and overall situation.
On Monday, a woman from China who traveled back to Cyprus, and was suspected of being a carrier of the coronavirus, tested negative for the bug hours later.
'The objections in the medical community begin at the point where state authorities did not take into account the possibility that the tests might not have come back negative'
But on Wednesday, Kathimerini’s Apostolos Tomaras reported that critics, including professionals from the island’s medical community, were pointing out a number of weak points in the line of defence against the Wuhan bug.
“The objections in the medical community begin at the point where state authorities did not take into account the possibility that the tests might not have come back negative,” Tomaras wrote.
Petros Agathangelou, the president of Cyprus Medical Association, has called for strengthening current protocols, telling Kathimerini that passengers on the plane sitting near the suspected carrier ought to have been transported to a special room and remain there until the tests on the woman came back hours later.
State authorities insist the handling of the case was in accordance with protocols set by the World Health Organization, pointing out that quarantine for people suspected of catching the virus begins only after a case is confirmed.
But Agathangelou said the “simple protection” that some 20 passengers received in the form of a breathing mask was not adequate.
“At least persons who were in close proximity in the suspected case should have remained in a designated area at the airport’s Arrivals terminal under the proper precautions until tests could come back either negative or positive,” the CMA president added.
Kathimerini also reported that Hermes, the company that manages the airports in Larnaca and Paphos, has pointed out possible areas that could be turned into special rooms for handling potential coronavirus cases.
Last week, a young man from China who was suspected of being a carrier of the coronavirus also tested negative. In both cases, the two Chinese nationals, who were described as permanent residents of Cyprus, were taken to Nicosia General Hospital. No other passengers were quarantined but officials said they had action plans on the ready in case a suspected carrier tested positive.