Statement by the Minister of Health, Mr Constantinos Ioannou, on the decisions of the Council of Ministers regarding the pandemic
The epidemiological data of the last two weeks were presented and examined
today at the meeting of the Council of Ministers and the current situation has
The epidemiological data and the data of public hospitals show that the situation
is at a turning point.
- The situation in the community remains epidemiologically deteriorating, with
a more intense burden in the District of Lemesos.
- There is a strong increase in transmission in the community and especially
in areas with large crowds, such as primary schools, workplaces (private and
public sectors), as well as increased transmission within the family.
- The increased transmission and illness are now linked to the British mutant
strain, which is found in the community and as the data from the ECDC
samples’ analysis so far show, its incidence rate is 25.7%.
- The epidemiological picture in primary schools, island-wide is burdened, with
extremely alarming data in the District of Lemesos.
- As far as workplaces are concerned, there are clusters in all areas, such as
services companies, banks, accounting firms, advisory services, human
resources departments and the public sector.
- From the analysis of the admissions/hospitalizations of the last days, most
of the transmissions took place within a family or friendly environment, as well
as in workplaces, while the average age has decreased, observing admissions
in healthy younger people who develop severe cardiorespiratory symptoms and
The burdened epidemiological picture and the increase in the number of
hospitalized patients cause concern and call us to be vigilant. If admissions
continue at this rate, our primary goal of protecting the Health System will be
jeopardized, along with the good performance we have achieved all this time
and our primary goal of saving lives.
On the other hand, we listen to the strong concerns of experts that
psychological fatigue is widespread throughout society, after a year in
unprecedented and difficult conditions, and that the measures may not
have worked due to this fatigue.
The stake we have before us is to reconcile all the concerns and find the right
balance so that we can move towards the end of this health crisis, safely.
Following an assessment of the above and taking into account, on one hand
the increasing burden of the epidemiological picture and on the other, the low
level of compliance both at an individual and a collective level, as determined
by the analysis of the Tracing Team, and taking into account the views of the
Scientific Advisory Committee and the Head of the Committee for the
Psychological Support Of Citizens from the effects of the pandemic, the Council
of Ministers has decided that the measures should focus on the following two
a) First pillar: (validity period 16-31 March): Targeted measures in indoor
areas with increased clusters of cases and a high transmission risk (offices,
primary schools, residences etc.) in an attempt to curb the spreading in such
i) The 25% for service-providing businesses is reinstated with a readjustment
of the weekly rapid test programme to cover the 25% of the employees of such
businesses and a simultaneous reinforcement of supervision and checks.
ii) Taking into consideration that children are carriers with an increased risk of
transmission/dispersion and delays in their detection as they are mostly
asymptomatic, along with an inability to impose diagnostic tests, rendering them
silent carriers with the risk of spreading the virus with increased clusters of
cases, and given the fact that in the Primary Schools of the District of Lemesos
there are many clusters of cases, it has been decided to suspend the
operation, with physical presence, of the Primary Schools of the District
of Lemesos until 31 March.
iii) The suspension of operation with physical presence of Gymnasiums,
across Cyprus, is extended over the next two weeks (until 31.03.2021) in
order to prevent the outbreak of cases.
b) Second pillar: Measures aimed at increasing citizens’ compliance while
promoting their psychological recovery:
i) As of Monday, 15 March, access to squares and parks is allowed for up to
6 persons with the mandatory use of a facemask for persons from different
ii) Only for Monday, 15 March, access to picnic areas and dams is allowed.
iii) As of Tuesday, 16 March, only the outdoor areas of catering
establishments are reopening on the basis of a strict protocol which will be
published and in compliance with the measures for distancing and the health
iv) As of Tuesday, 16 March, the curfew time is extended from 9 pm to 11 pm.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Armed with increased testing, tracing, monitoring and the rolling of the
vaccination programme as well as the recommendations of the experts, we
have focused on these two pillars in order to be able to carry on fighting the
invisible enemy with your assistance. The situation is being monitored daily.
The common goal which we must all set together is the improvement of the
epidemiological picture in a way that allows us to return to everyday life with
safe and steady steps. For the District of Lemesos in particular, our efforts must
become even more intense and collective. The Government does not wish to
reinstate measures and that is why we need the cooperation of all our fellow
It is our belief that we can curb the spread only with the cooperation of the
entire society. Once again, we ask our fellow citizens for their contribution
and understanding. The great sacrifices by all have brought fatigue and we
acknowledge it. We now have the weapon of vaccination at our disposal and
our need to return to normality as soon as possible is expressed in the
eagerness of thousands of our fellow citizens to be vaccinated. The rate
of vaccination that is accelerating and will increase in the coming weeks, offers
optimism for a safe continuation. Until then, we kindly request that you
continue responsibly to comply with the measures so that we, our brothers
and sisters, our friends remain healthy. We must not forget the personal
protective measures. Let us not relax that we have reached the end because,
unfortunately, the epidemiological data of the last days confirms that a
relaxation, a slip-up can, at any time, reverse the situation and take us back.
We’ve proven that we have the maturity to achieve this. But it takes individual
and collective discipline. Our lives, the lives of our loved ones are in our hands.
We started together. It’s only with your help that we can succeed.