SOCIAL media is awash with comments highlighting the need to look out for our neighbours and in particular those that live alone, are vulnerable or elderly, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“My neighbour who is in his 80s and lives alone after his wife died was still going to the supermarket daily and doing his other errands and wasn’t aware of the new restrictions in force,” Maria, a Facebook user in Paphos posted on a site.
As of Tuesday, until April 13, anyone going outdoors must either fill out a printed form explaining the reason, or send an SMS to authorities. (Handwritten signed declarations may also be accepted.) Everyone must also carry a form of identification at all times when outside – an ID or a passport.
Maria explained everything to her neighbour, printed him forms to use. In answer to trolls that criticised her for approaching an elderly man when restrictions are in place, she noted that help for the vulnerable or elderly is imperative and that she kept a safe distance, wore gloves and also gave him some hand sanitizer.
Social media is also burgeoning with groups and individuals wanting to help each other as communities come together to offer help and support, including telephone chats to those that need it, as they remain at home.
One Facebook group in particular that is gaining momentum is: Cyprus Helpers COVID-19.
“After seeing many kind offers concerning those who are or may be (in the coming weeks) in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group has been established to become a focal point across Cyprus for everyone, business and other groups to post what they can offer, to whom and where and also to ask for help,” the page notes.
It is awash with people offering to help and sharing stories of helping those in need, including the elderly.
The group has regional coordinators across the island and Tracy Bailey, who is responsible for Paphos posted: “We are seeing posted in various places about elderly persons with no family here who don’t use Facebook. If you have somebody who you think may fit into this category living near you please make them aware of the legislation of the lockdown. We can arrange to obtain printed forms for them or to assist in any other way possible.”
Such initiatives are being welcomed by officials as well as the general public and Peyia councillor Linda Leblanc stressed the need to look out for each other.
“Look out for your neighbours, obviously in a safe way, but let them know what the situation is if they are not aware,” she said.
Peyia Municipality has followed the move of many other areas and has established a special department to aid residents unable to get necessities from supermarkets and pharmacies.
They have also set up a team to check the restrictions currently in place to contain the spread of coronavirus are being followed . They will check that no one gathers in public areas such as parks, beaches or squares and will also check businesses such as supermarkets.
Residents of Peyia may also contact the municipality weekdays from 8.30am to 2.30pm if they need help with forms permitting them to leave the house, said Leblanc.