The health ministry has issued a new decree requiring all asylum seekers who are ordered to stay in migrant camps to be tested for COVID-19 before checking in.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, the health ministry issued on Tuesday an executive order mandating that all persons in state custody being transferred to prisons or detention facilities, including asylum seekers, are to be tested for the coronavirus prior to their admission into a facility.
The decree also authorizes immigration officials to conduct initial or repeated tests on asylum seekers who are already staying in migrant facilities, when an exam is deemed necessary by an immigration supervisor.
Prisoners and other detained individuals who are incarcerated in any facility are also required to take a molecular test for COVID-19 based on the same guidelines, according to CNA.
A day before the decree was issued, health experts said they were alarmed over the possibility that undocumented migrants coming from north to south could be carrying the coronavirus
The decree came just days after five Syrian nationals tested positive over the weekend just before being transported to the Pournara closed camp in Kokkinotrimithia, rural Nicosia.
Media reports said the five individuals were tested prior to being processed at Pournara, but authorities did not specify whether they were recent arrivals or had been staying in the Republic of Cyprus for some time.
Authorities were criticized earlier this year for carrying out policies under which asylum applicants were being picked up from their places of residence or other locations and transferred back into the migrant camp, which was originally designed to host asylum seekers for a maximum of 72 hours for initial checks and processing.
Based on information obtained from the police, Knews understands there was no information of recent arrivals through the north regarding the five individuals last weekend.
A day before the decree was issued, health experts spoke publicly saying they were alarmed over the possibility that undocumented migrants carrying the coronavirus could be coming from Turkey through the north and ending up seeking asylum in the south.
Following some reports that a second wave in parts of the world could not be ruled out, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said current planning did not include a scenario for a second lockdown.
But the minister clarified that partial lockdowns could be a possibility if clusters were to be found in specific areas.