Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou on Thursday expressed surprise over Belgium’s inclusion of Cyprus in its elevated risk zone for travel.
“I’ve contacted the Foreign Minister on the issue. I’m surprised by this development, because we’re considered the safest country in the European Union at the moment, and so I wonder what the criteria and data were that led to this categorization,” Ioannou said.
“Obviously, some mistake must have been made by Belgium’s experts,” Ioannou noted, adding that the Foreign Ministry will be dealing with the matter.
In statements on the matter on Thursday, health advisory committee member Leondios Kostrikis said his assessment is that Cyprus was placed in Belgium’s orange list due to the north’s restoration of connectivity with Turkey.
Regarding the further relaxation of restrictions expected this week, Ioannou said proposals have been submitted by the government’s health advisory committee, with announcements expected to be made later on Thursday.
Ioannou highlighted that despite the assurances made by local experts, the unfolding global situation involving a resurgence of coronavirus after the easing of lockdown measures is a source of concern, and “we are taking this seriously so that we don’t end up on the same path.”
Asked to comment on the local situation observed in recent days, whereby all new cases are linked to arriving passengers or people with a history of travel, Ioannou responded that this was to be expected, “as Cyprus cannot remain cut off from the rest of the world.”
Ioannou reiterated his call to public to continue taking personal protection measures, noting that “if we take our own protection measures, then we have nothing to worry about.”
Responding to a question regarding whether he finds the measures being taken at airports satisfactory, Ioannou responded that they are among the strictest in the EU.
“We are the only country along with Greece that conducts sampling checks, and, if we compare ourselves with Greece, the number of checks we undertake on arrivals are higher.”
“From that point on, there’s nothing more we can do. As we have said many times in the past, the virus knows no borders and there will be imported cases whatever we do,” Ioannou said, stressing that “the only way each one of us can remain protected is to take personal protection measures.”