The island’s vaccination programme will on Wednesday be moving on to cover ages 61 and over, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said Monday, noting that Cyprus is expecting a delivery of 60,000 coronavirus doses this week.
In statements after a parliamentary committee on financial and budgetary affairs, which on Monday approved the spending of an additional €250 million on pandemic management and economic support, Ioannou said the majority of people have embraced the vaccine, as over 80% of the 80+ age groups and 75% of those aged 70-79 have been covered.
He said the general population hasn’t followed the example of quite a large portion of healthcare workers that refused the vaccine, noting that Cyprus isn’t currently considering to apply to health professionals the practice followed for educators, who can only return to work if submitted to a rapid test.
Ioannou said €60 million of the supplementary budget presented Monday before MPs are earmarked for pandemic management and supporting the government’s strategy, that he said is based on the three-pronged approach of testing, vaccination and health protocols.
“In a nutshell, these €60 million have to do with the purchase of more vaccines, buying services for diagnostic tests, buying services to man the contact tracing team, the epidemiological surveillance unit, public health centres, buying the services of the Eden hospitality centre and various other services,” Ioannou said.
The Health Minister said that last week over 350,000 tests were carried out in Cyprus, covering nearly half the population aged over 18, adding that the island’s strategy has from the very beginning focused on widespread testing, allowing for a timely diagnosis and isolation of positive cases, with other countries just now trying to adopt it.
Ioannou said that at the same time, the island is pushing for a vaccine rollout boost, with an additional 60,000 doses expected this week. On Wednesday, the vaccine portal will open up for those aged 61 and over, with ages 57 or 58 and over to likely get their turn by the weekend depending on demand. The coming weeks will also see an intensification of the vaccination of vulnerable groups, Ioannou said.
The Health Minister said Cyprus is sticking to the EMA’s recommendations regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine, noting that ““all four approved vaccines are effective and safe.”
He said “our policy is to give people correct information on the basis of scientific data.”
Commenting on the shambles involving a private company supplying rapid tests which was claiming payments for tests that never took place, Ioannou said the Attorney General and the police are informed of the case, which has taken the road of justice. He said the state has already terminated its business with the specific company.