Turkish Cypriot authorities declared the coronavirus a “dangerous infections disease” over the weekend, prompting criticism over the basis and timing of the announcement.
According to Turkish Cypriot media, critics and opposition politicians in the north pounced on administration officials who defended a decision to declare the coronavirus pandemic a “dangerous infections disease” on Sunday night.
Politicians and media ridiculed the declaration, with a number of party officials asking why it took four months and a newspaper cartoon showing World Health Organization representatives puzzled over the move.
But the Turkish Cypriot administration defended the decision, which practically grants more legal authority to health officials during the pandemic, citing recent developments including a lawsuit filed by doctors in the north as well as a complicated process for trying to set up a referral hospital for the pandemic.
But the Turkish Cypriot administration defended the declaration, which practically grants more legal authority to health officials during the pandemic
Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades declared a state of emergency back in March, which meant the health ministy had authority to issue decrees including making new assignments for public and private doctors and hospitals. It also meant that the south effectively went into lockdown until many measures later began to be lifted gradually.
Similar lockdown measures were initially taken in the north, but the two sides on the divided island deviated on issues ranging from crossing points in the buffer zone to sharing epidemiological data and carrying out public health policies.
Both sides currently run a scheme for inbound travelers, putting different countries in categories of a) low risk, b) high risk, and c) quarantine.
In the south, passengers traveling from countries in category A are not required do give samples and do not face restrictions. Under the second category, all foreign tourists would need to have a PCR test done 72 hours prior to landing on the island. Random tests are also carried out that require self-isolation until results come back.
In the north, passengers traveling from countries in category A are required to show a negative PCR test done 72 hours prior to landing on the island. In category B, travelers must give a sample for a second PCR test to be done locally, which also requires quarantine until results come back.
A recently stated intent by Greek Cypriots in the south to resume flights between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Cyprus without quarantine has also raised alarm in the north, according to local media in the north.
Last week, August 1 was set as a new tentative date for opening flights to incoming passengers from Britain, with health officials warning that the decision was conditional on the United Kingdom keeping a firm grip on containing the virus.
Turkish Cypriots have also introduced new rules for Greek Cypriots and as well as Turkish Cypriot residing in the south, removing the self-isolation requirement if PCR tests are negative, while requiring the same test every 15 days along with a signed declaration each time proving no overseas trip took place in the south in the previous two weeks.
Foreign tourists who contract the virus in the south will stay in quarantine hotels with all expenses paid by the government, while travelers in the north are responsible for paying added expenses on their own.