As of Saturday evening, over 1,200 people were in quarantine at various hotels around Cyprus as a total border lockdown kicked in at 3am and as the health ministry announced nine new cases of Covid-19, one of whom is a healthcare worker and one an airline representative.
The total number of cases is now at 84 in the government-controlled areas and as of early Saturday, 34 in the north of the island.
From the latest cases announced by the health ministry, three were individuals who came in contact with a confirmed case, one nurse from Paphos general, four who had returned from the UK, Spain, and Poland, and one person working for an airline.
According to the ministry, 13 people are being treated at Famagusta General, three are in serious but stable condition at Limassol General, and another individual is at Nicosia General for treatment. Another three people were released and are in recovery, the ministry said.
A total of 779 people who returned to Cyprus from March 16 to 21 have been placed in quarantine in seven hotels the health ministry said on Saturday, part of the latest measures the state is taking to contain the coronavirus outbreak on the island.
The ministry added the individuals, who arrived, will stay in the hotels for a period of 14 days. They have been warned that it’s not a holiday. They will be provided three meals a day left outside their doors, no alcohol, no freedom of movement, linen changes every four days, and will have to clean their own rooms. They will also be under guard.
On Saturday at 3am, a flight ban was introduced for 24 countries, including the UK and Greece. However the health ministry said another 439 Cypriots came in on three repatriation flights from the UK on Saturday after the lockdown deadline.
A coordination centre has been set up by the ministry to deal with the arrivals, and their safe transport to the hotels for quarantine.
The centre, according to the ministry, is working on a 24-hour basis to ensure the safe transfer to quarantine of citizens arriving in both the Larnaca and Paphos airports.
Special measures are also being taken for the transfer of passengers arriving at the airports who are facing health problems, or who have recently had surgery, or are accompanying children. Those people are being transferred to their homes for self-isolation with the help of nurses working at the airports and the private company employed by the ministry for their transfer.
As for the hotels, the Flamingo hotel in Larnaca and the Aldiana opened their doors to taken in people for quarantine, with the former hosting 57 individuals and the second 203.
The Aldiana wrote in a statement: “The hotel responded right away to the state’s call to take in individuals coming from abroad required to stay in quarantine for 14 days.” The hotel has 322 rooms and 664 beds.
In Paphos, the Αliathon, Droushia, King’s Hotel, and Daphne Hotel Apartments all opened their doors to people entering the state-mandated quarantine.
The head of the Aliathon group of hotels, Themis Philippides said they responded immediately to the state’s call to host the citizens in quarantine.
Philippides said the hotels hosting individuals will be subsidised by the government at a cost of €90 for a double room, €60 for a single room, and there will also be subsidies for meals.
“All of us hope the pandemic will be overcome,” he said, adding that times were difficult as there is a chance airlines could go bankrupt as well as tourism companies.
Hundreds of returning passengers have also been taken to hotels in Limassol for quarantine. Specifically, the Ajax hotel has taken 117 individuals, the Park Beach 93 people, and the Rodon hotel in the village of Agros has taken another 110 people. Another group of individuals, who arrived on Monday without the government-approved health certificates, have already been in quarantine at the Forest Park and Jubilee hotels in Platres.
Another group of individuals was being transferred to the Atlantica Oasis hotel.
People in the hotels, the ministry added, are under strict quarantine rules, and the area is monitored by National Guard officers at the entrances, and private security officers employed the health ministry inside the hotels. It is against the law to approach a quarantine area by government decree.
For their hygiene products and cleaning kits, people in quarantine are receiving aid from the Volunteerism Commissioner’s office.
The ministry said healthcare professionals were visiting and briefing the individuals in quarantine on all the coronavirus measures and taking their temperatures.
Medicines and other care is also being provided for those who may need it, through coordination with their personal doctors.
Potential issues arising are being recorded by the health ministry officials visiting the hotels, and they are being communicated to the coordination centre.
The ministry added the hotels were being supplied with gloves and sanitisers, and there is constant cooperation with authorities.
In the meantime, eleven flights were scheduled to depart from Paphos airport for Berlin, London, Manchester and Birmingham in order to carry foreign nationals home.
Airport sources told CNA that it is likely that there will be more flights chartered by the British government in order to repatriate British visitors.
The British High Commission said on their social media a special flight for British visitors in Cyprus would operate on March 22 from Paphos to Gatwick to bring them home.
Yesterday, over 715 passengers departed from Paphos on five different flights. Two flights took off for Manchester, on was bound for Stansted, another for Gatwick and one more for Birmingham.