COVID-19 – Statement by the Minister of Health Mr. Konstantinos Ioannou -12/03/2021 – Cap for employees down to 25%, Closure of Primary Schools in Limassol, Extension in closure of Gymnasium to March 31st

We have translated unofficially the statement in Greek of the Minister of Health Mr. Konstantinos Ioannou on the update of the measures to combat COVID-19 here in Greek.

“The epidemiological data of the last two weeks were presented and examined today at the meeting of the Council of Ministers and the situation as it is currently assessed.

The epidemiological data and the data of the public hospitals show that the situation is at a nexus point.

  1. The situation in the community remains epidemiologically deteriorating, with a greater burden in the District of Limassol.
  2. There is a strong increase in communicability in the community and especially in areas of co-existence, such as primary schools, workplaces (private and public sector), as well as increased intra-family transmission.
  3. 3. Increased transmissibility and disease are now linked to the British mutant strain, which is found in the community and as shown by data from the analysis of samples from the ECDC, its incidence rate is 25.7%.
  4. The situation in the Primary Schools all over Cyprus is burdened with extremely worrying data in the District of Limassol.
  5. With regard to workplaces, there are convergences in all areas, such as service companies, banks, accounting firms, consulting services, human resources departments and the public sector.
  6. From the analysis of the admissions / hospitalizations of the last days, most of the transmissions were made in 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 need hospitalization.

The aggravated epidemiological picture and the increase in the number of patients, causes concern and calls us to be vigilant. If imports in hospitals continue at this rate, our primary goal of protecting the Health System will be jeopardized, dragging with it the good performance we have achieved all this time and our primary goal of saving lives.

On the other hand, we are listening to the strong concerns of experts that psychological fatigue is pervasive throughout society after a year in unprecedented and difficult conditions, and that the measures may not have worked because of this fatigue.

The bet we have before us is to bring together all the concerns and find the optimum solution, so that we can move towards the end of this health crisis, safely.

After evaluating the above and taking into account on the one hand the increasing burden of the epidemiological picture and on the other hand the low rate of compliance, both individually and collectively, as shaped by the analysis of the Tracing Team, and after taking into account the views of the Consulting Team and of the President of the Commission for psychological support of citizens from the effects of the pandemic, the Council of Ministers decided to focus the measures on the following two pillars:

  1. First pillar (validity March 16-31): Targeted measures in enclosed indoor spaces with increased incidence of cases and at high risk of transmission (offices, municipalities, homes, etc.) in an effort to stop the spread in these areas:

i.       The 25% cap on present employees is reinstated to service companies with readjustment of the weekly rapid tests program to 25% of the employees of these companies and at the same time strengthening the supervision and controls.

ii.      Considering that children are carriers with an increased risk of transmission / dispersion and delay in their detection as they are mostly asymptomatic, and with the inability to impose diagnostic tests, making them silent carriers at risk of spreading the virus with increased confluences In the Primary Schools of the District of Limassol and taking into account that there are many chains of COVID-19 cases, it was decided to suspend the operation of the Primary Schools in the District of Limassol with the physical presence of students until March 31.

                                                           iii.      Extension of the suspension of the physical presence of students attending  Gymnasiums on a nationwide basis for the next two weeks (until 31.03.2021), in order to prevent outbreaks of cases.

  1. Second Pillar: Measures aimed at increasing the compliance of the general public to the measures and at the same time the psychological recovery of the citizens:

i.      From Monday, March 15, access to squares and parks is allowed to up to 6 people with mandatory use of masks by people from different households.

ii.      Only on Monday, March 15, access to picnic areas and dams is allowed.

iii.      From Tuesday, March 16only the outdoor areas of the catering establishments will reopen, with a strict protocol to be published, in compliance with the distance measures and the sanitary instructions.

iv.      The curfew will be moved from Tuesday, March 16 from 9 pm to 11 pm.

With our weapon, the increased tests, tracking, surveillance and development of the vaccination program and the suggestions of the experts, we focused on these two pillars, so that with your help we can continue the battle with the invisible enemy. The situation will be assessed daily. The common goal that we must all set together is to improve the epidemiological picture in a way that allows us to continue to return to everyday life with safe and steady steps. Especially in the District of Limassol, our effort must become even more intense and collective. The Government does not want to reinstate measures and that is why we need the cooperation of all our fellow citizens.

It is our belief that the thread can only be cut with the cooperation of the whole society. We ask once again from our fellow citizens for their contribution and understanding. The great sacrifices of all brought fatigue and we recognize that. We now have the weapon of vaccination at our disposal and our need to return to normalcy as soon as possible is expressed in the eagerness of thousands of our fellow citizens for vaccination. The rate of vaccination, which is accelerating and will increase in the coming weeks, gives us optimism for a safe continuation. Until then, a warm request to continue to responsibly follow the measures, so that we, our brothers, our friends remain healthy,. Let us not forget the personal protection measures. Do not rest on your laurels because unfortunately the epidemiological data of the last few days confirm that a relaxation, a misstep can at any time reverse the situation, and take us back. We have shown that we have the maturity to achieve it. But individual and collective discipline is needed. Our lives, the lives of our loved ones are in our hands. We started together. Only with your help will we succeed”.