Cyprus’ developing epidemiological situation was discussed on Tuesday in an emergency teleconference meeting between the Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou and the government’s coronavirus advisory team, with participants agreeing to relax certain restrictions in Limassol.
While measures will remain the same islandwide, the Health Minister and Cyprus' coronavirus experts agreed to lift the maximum number of people allowed to gather in Limassol homes and public spaces from 10 to 50. But the 10-person cap on gatherings at food and drink spots remains in place.
The meeting’s agenda delved in the island’s latest coronavirus data, including the results of the recent random sampling program targeting 10,000 people. Ioannou also presented his team of experts with a recent ECDC report dealing, among other things, with mass gatherings.
Also high on the agenda was the laying of solid foundations for the rest of the year in terms of protocol updates, but also finding ways of dealing with the surge in young asymptomatic cases Cyprus has been detecting recently.
Epidemiologists agreed to submit proposals for ways forward in a meeting to be held next week with the Health Minister, before final decisions are taken on outstanding matters such are mass events.
With some 2,000 tests conducted so far in the framework of the random sampling program targeting 10,000 people, experts agreed that though the data cannot be fully representative, it does show that the spread of the virus among the community has begun a downward trend, with the situation appearing to be edging away from the signs of a relapse of the pandemic that emerged late last month.
As such, the coronavirus experts and the Health Minister agreed to boost the maximum number of people allowed to gather in Limassol homes and public spaces – but not at food and drink spots - from 10 to 50, with the decision set to be re-evaluated on the basis of the coming week’s epidemiological situation.
The following measures, which were enforced on August 1 for the Limassol district, will remain in place:
- Food and drink spots must limit the number of customers to a maximum of 75 people indoors and 150 outdoors, regardless of the size of the premises.
- No more than 75 people are allowed to gather in churches, while smaller churches can only accept as many people as their size allows, as per government guidelines
The meeting also saw the Health Minister express intense concern over the potential resumption of mass gatherings such as concerts and festivals and the risks they pose.
Ioannou referred to warnings against such mass events issued by the ECDC, as well as to the setbacks observed in other countries that permitted mass gatherings to take place.
Ioannou’s concerns, which mainly revolve around the difficulty of conducting contact tracing after such events, were shared by the epidemiologists, who will be drafting a specific proposal on the matter.
The teleconference also extensively dealt with the need for protocols to be updated and new ones to be issued were necessary in view of the coming months.
Ioannou gave instructions for a new road map to be drawn out in preparation for the coming autumn season.
The Health Minister stressed on the need for the public to be constantly kept up to date on the measures in place and on the need for the cultivation of a culture of appropriate behaviour that would involve less complacency given that the road until a vaccine is secured remains long.