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Tales from the Coffeeshop: Virus fears extra-high among the chronically lazy

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou

I HAVE never been a great socialiser and the older I get the more reclusive I become, something my friends would testify to, given the number of times I have turned down offers to go out for a drink or a meal. I am routinely dismissed as a miserable old git, but I enjoy sitting on my couch for hours watching a television series or scouring You Tube for songs I hadn’t heard in years.

Despite having chosen not to have much of a social life, I still feel aggrieved about this stay-at-home policy imposed by our government as one of its measures to contain the spread of Covid-19. I feel like my personal liberty has been quashed, my right to move about freely suppressed, even though I do not exercise it as often as most people do.

I know these are exceptional times and we all have to contribute as much as we can to combating the spread of the virus, but I do not have to like living under conditions of martial law, having my lifestyle being dictated by the state. To fight Covid-19 democratic governments are acting like military dictatorships – imposing curfews, banning all public gatherings, closing airports.

The only difference is that military dictatorships don’t tell you to wash your hands a hundred times a day or set the time when you can go to the supermarket.


THE DECREE banning people under 60 years of age from visiting the supermarket before 10am that came into force on Saturday did not go according to plan. The government’s thinking was aimed at protecting the so-called ‘vulnerable members’ of society, who could do their shopping without the fear of coming into contact with people that might be infected with the virus.

It is certainly not a foolproof measure because people in their sixties could also be infected, but it is based on the assumption that the elderly are more likely to stay at home and avoid much contact with others. The decree was completely ignored as many non-vulnerable young people turned up at supermarkets between 7am and 10am on Saturday, the time slot reserved for the ‘vulnerable’.

When supermarket staff, politely tried to turn them away the visitors claimed they had chronic illnesses and therefore belonged to the vulnerable groups. There were 40-years-olds that insisted they were over 60, supermarket staff reluctant to argue with them, having no authority to demand to see ID.

The retail trade association has written to the chief of police to ask for advice on how to enforce the government decree. An idea would be for the cops that were posted at the airports and will have nothing to do in the next two weeks to police the supermarkets. And the young with chronic illnesses will have to obtain a chronic-illness certificate from a government approved health centre.


FIRST the government would have to make sure that no health centre issues certificates of chronic illness, a bit like it had done in the case of Cypriots that were stuck abroad and wanted to return to their hallowed homeland.

Demanding a health certificate, not older than four days, showing a person was not infected by the coronavirus before he or she was allowed into Kyproulla was a surrealistic measure. The government listed specific health centres in EU member-states, the certificates of which it would recognise. It probably found them in some internet directory.

Several of these did not issue such certificates, as they were not prepared to waste resources testing people that had no Covid-19 symptoms so they could fly back to Kyproulla. Others needed more than four days to deliver the results. And in the rare cases that a centre delivered the result within a couple of days, there was always the possibility the person would have contracted the virus on the way home, at the hotel, at a restaurant, in a shop, on the way to the airport, at the airport or on the plane.

But this did not stop the minister of transport insisting that nobody would be allowed in without this meaningless certificate that also happened to be unobtainable in most countries.


THE MAIN achievement of teaching union leaders is they can always be relied on to shatter last vestiges faith you may have in the human race. They have tried to turn the coronavirus to their advantage, trying to secure an extended holiday for their work-shy, underworked and entitled members.

Last weekend they met the education minister Prodromos Prodromou, who told them that teachers with young children or belonging to the ‘vulnerable group’ could stay at home without providing any certification. The rest had to report to their schools on Monday, because plans for distance learning had to be put together.

As soon as the teachers heard Prez Nik announcing a lockdown last Sunday, secondary teachers’ union Oelmek issued a statement saying: “The measures apply to all the Cypriot people and therefore must be adhered to in an absolute way. As a result, tomorrow Monday, 16 teachers will not go to the school units.”

Nik did not say offices or banks would close, so the measures did not apply to all Cypriot people as the liars of Oelmek claimed, but union bosses still seized the opportunity to secure an extended period of no work for their members. Appearing on the television news and being told teachers had to go to school on Monday, Oelmek boss Costas Hadjisavvas, said “the minister is playing with the lives of teachers,” in expecting them to report to their schools on Monday.


OELMEK’S promotion of laziness did not end there. On Thursday it issued an announcement ordering the ministry of education, not to introduce the rest of the syllabus through distance learning, which should go over what had already been taught. Exams had to be based on what had been taught so far and nothing new taught, Oelmek’s champions of indolence decreed.

This would ensure teachers did not have to prepare any new lessons that would interfere with the extended holiday the coronavirus earned them. Prodromou, to his credit, told them to ‘f’ off, in polite terms, even at the risk of again being accused of playing with the lives of teachers, by asking them to work.


IT WAS not only with the lives of teachers that the government was playing. It did the same in the case of the public parasites, who were also hoping Covid-19 would enable them to do nothing at home rather than at the office. Most of them stayed home claiming they had small children, parents that were in the vulnerable group, to which many of them belonged, suffering from chronic laziness.

And when the government decreed that it wanted the staff of the labour and health ministries as well as of the state health services and the HIO to show up for work normally, the parasites’ union Pasydy immediately issued a statement saying this “puts at grave risk the health of citizens.” It meant parasites because it does not care about the health of citizens that work for a living being put at grave risk.

It was unacceptable to ask parasites to go to work “at a time when the hazardous nature and progression of the virus remains indeterminate while worldwide everyone is saying stay at home,” said Hadjimourmouris’ organ. To be fair it makes no difference whether the parasites are resting at home or at work, as they will carry on sucking our blood from either place.


IT WAS NOT only the parasitic class that was exploiting the coronavirus in Kyproulla. According to Phil, “the occupation regime was trying to utilise the coronavirus pandemic in order to put across the message to international platform that it was acting under the status of a ‘state’.”

I take my hat off to the paper for finding a Cyprob spin on the coronavirus.

This devious plan had been set in motion by the pseudo minister of foreign affairs, Kudret Ozersay, who had sent letters to WHO and the European Commission about the measures implemented against the coronavirus. He also asked for cooperation and assistance – financial and medical equipment if the need arose, report the outraged Phil.

How a request for cooperation and help could be an attempt “to procure recognition in the middle of a pandemic,” only the paranoid Phil journalist can explain.


I KNOW it is not normal, for our establishment to praise anyone, but we feel obliged to put in a good word for our health minister Constantinos Ioannou, who has been doing a fantastic job running the coronavirus show for the government. The guy is smart, articulate, composed, radiating calmness and confidence when speaking in public.

He speaks directly, answers all questions honestly and admits to making mistakes, not being lumbered with the oversized ego of most of our politicians. You just trust the guy because he does not do bullshit.

Prez Nik got lucky in appointing Ioannou because he did not know him, but as they said in The Big Lebowski, ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’. And Ioannou is proving to be very much the man in this time of crisis. I dread to think how things would have been if Ioannou’s self-centred, hot-headed, publicity-seeking predecessor was running the coronavirus show.

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