The Cypriot health minister lashed out at infected travelers who had symptoms but still chose to fly back home for the holidays, saying the “unacceptable behavior” prompted the government to require mandatory PCR tests for vaccinated passengers starting next week.
Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela went on television Thursday to discuss the government’s response to the pandemic as well as answer to criticism over recent measures, including delays in instituting mandatory pre-departure PCR tests for vaccinated passengers amid the Omicron surge.
Some 70 confirmed coronavirus cases amongst arriving passengers at Cypriot airports were detected in the last two days, with Hadjipantela saying his associates were alarmed after seeing a pattern where infected travelers who had symptoms were still boarding Cyprus-bound flights.
'These cunning persons took advantage of our kindness to let them enjoy their holidays in their home country and transmitted the virus'
“These cunning persons took advantage of our kindness to let them enjoy their holidays in their home country and transmitted the virus,” he said.
While a negative PCR test result has been required of unvaccinated passengers before flying to the Republic, vaccinated travelers were not required to test for the bug ahead of the flight.
But on Wednesday the Cabinet presided by House Speaker Annita Demetriou approved a temporary measure effective on 4 January 2022, where all passengers arriving in the Republic of Cyprus regardless of vaccination status will be required to present a negative PCR test taken 48 hours prior to departure.
“What could we have done? Should we keep having 5-10 infected individuals on a plane who transmit the virus to their fellow passengers?” the minister wondered.
Many confirmed coronavirus cases in Cyprus with the Omicron variant, including the first detections earlier this month, have been linked to persons who traveled abroad.
“We want to stop infected persons from getting on the planes and this is the reason the measure was taken no matter how strict it may sound,” Hadjipantela said.