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Coronavirus:1420 line inundated with calls as those with symptoms look for answers

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 With the 1420 coronavirus hotline still overburdened and people unable to get through, the health ministry on Wednesday issued new instructions over what people with symptoms should do.

Only those with a dry cough, high fever and dyspnea who also travelled outside Cyprus in the past 14 days should call 1420, a ministry statement said.

Those who present coronavirus symptoms but have not been outside of the country for the past two weeks should contact their doctor instead to help ease the number of calls directed to the emergency hotline.

The new statement is likely to add to confusion as many doctors are refusing to treat suspected coronavirus patients and are advising their patients to self-isolate, to keep measuring their temperature and eventually call 1420.

A Lithuanian man, who has been living in Cyprus for the past ten years, told the Cyprus Mail on Wednesday how after showing symptoms of the virus, he first called 1420 to ask about the necessary steps to take.

Just as the ministry directed, the man called his doctor who in turn referred him back to the emergency hotline.

“I tried several times to call 1420, always to no avail,” he told the Cyprus Mail. “The lines are constantly busy.”

“I have been on the phone waiting for a reply for hours to no avail. I know the situation is not ideal,” he said. “But it really feels like I am being rebuffed from all angles. People with symptoms of the virus need answers and they need to know what to do.”

The 1420 hotline was implemented as a measure to avoid people queueing up at hospitals and clinics, places where the risk of getting the virus is often high.

“That’s why the line needs to stay operative and calls need to be answered,” the man said.

The health ministry, according to a spokesperson, is aware the current situation is far from ideal and has vowed “to look into it and try to find a solution”.

“The advice to people who have symptoms, regardless if they have been abroad or not, is to self-isolate as much as possible and, if advised by their doctor to call 1420, we ask them to be as patient as they can be and wait in line until their call is answered.”

“People have to understand that, during these difficult times, we all have to bear in mind the workload of our doctors, our nurses and our hospitals in general.”

A second hotline, 1450, was launched last week for those just seeking general information about coronavirus.

 

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