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11 May, 2021
 
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Greek Easter relaxation hopes put to rest

No relaxations ahead of Greek Orthodox Easter until vaccination plan starts to pay off, debates continue

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Cyprus’ current epidemiological situation is behind the government’s latest decision to freeze possible relaxation of restrictions ahead of Greek Orthodox Easter, with the administration focusing on vaccinations but also not ruling out further measures.

Health Minister Constantinos called on Cypriots Monday morning to listen to EMA scientists and urged the public to get vaccinated as measure relaxations were out of the question ahead of Greek Orthodox Easter.

“We could see signs prompting against relaxations days earlier and this was confirmed during the meeting,” Ioannou said, referring to a meeting at a Presidential Palace on Sunday.

'The situation doesn’t let us move forward with further relaxations in the time period ahead, as the government had intended, until we get the anticipated benefits from the vaccination program'

The minister, who spoke on state radio Monday morning, said it was too early to offer a concrete schedule on the government’s plan to relax measures, saying compliance amongst the public was very low despite expectations that the number of daily cases should have dropped significantly.

Ioannou said business owners were not in favor of an “open and close” approach while the minister also admitted that health officials have been calling police on cases where contacts of confirmed cases were still uncooperative with authorities.

Sunday’s decision came following criticism over mixed messages from the government last week.

But according to an editorial piece in Kathimerini Cyprus by Apostolos Tomaras, sources said conflicting views within the government over the response to the pandemic date back to the early stages of the crisis, while also citing examples as recent as debate on school closures in Limassol.

Seven COVID-19 patients died over the weekend

Seven COVID-19 patients aged between late 40’s and early 90’s died in hospital over the weekend in the Republic of Cyprus, with five of them having no vaccination against the virus and two perishing before getting the second dose of the vaccine.

According to figures reported by the Cyprus News Agency, there were 1638 new coronavirus cases over the weekend, with Sunday’s positivity rate jumping to 1.44%.

On Sunday, Government Spokesman Kyriakos Koushos said the current epidemiological outlook in the Republic of Cyprus did not allow any further relaxation of measures against the spread of COVID-19 ahead of Holy Week.

“Unfortunately, the way things have evolved, the situation doesn’t let us move forward with further relaxations in the time period ahead, as the government had intended, until we get the anticipated benefits from the vaccination program,” Koushos said.

The spokesperson made the comments following an emergency meeting at the presidential palace on Sunday - when President Nicos Anastasiades met with the ministers of Health, Finance, and Labor - essentially putting to rest any talk of relaxations until the vaccination program could begin showing results.

British variant prevalent in Cyprus

Koushos made the announcement citing a British variant of the coronavirus prevalent within the Cypriot community, saying the surge was affecting all ages and it was linked to a deteriorating situation in hospitals with the healthcare system under enormous pressure.

“We call on everyone to cooperate in this joint effort of ours by choosing to get vaccinated and adhering to protective measures and personal hygiene guidelines,” Koushos said, saying “this is the only way out of this sad situation.”

Local media also reported that current measures through the end of April could likely be extended through May 15, a decision that would also extend school closures through the week after Easter.

The government has been fighting an uphill battle recently after people hesitated to register for vaccination over fears concerning the AstraZeneca shot.

In a move to ease fears and push for vaccinations, members of the President’s Cabinet got the AstraZeneca shot last week in front of cameras.

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