Aradippou municipality has started testing residents for the coronavirus following an increase of confirmed cases in the area, mayor Evangelos Evangelides said on Friday.
Tests on 1,000 residents in Paphos – another virus hotspot – are due to start on Saturday.
In Aradippou, testing started in the morning at the municipal medical centre where officers of the epidemiological surveillance unit arrived with the necessary equipment. Aradippou had 39 confirmed cases as of Thursday.
“Today there will be a total of 150 tests on front-line people we registered, namely owners and employees of supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies, fruit shops, bakeries and kiosks whom we contacted,” he said.
“Tomorrow, Saturday, another 150 tests will be conducted on people we know have contacted the 39 confirmed cases of coronavirus which we know exist in Aradippou, and persons interested in undergoing tests.”
The decision was made after a telephone conversation with the health minister, where it was agreed the ministry would subsidise testing a number of Aradippou residents.
In addition, Evangelides has called on residents to donate money to finance the tests.
“Only by performing the tests can we stop the spread of the disease,” he said.
By the beginning of next week, the health ministry will have a clearer picture.
People in the village did heed the ministry’s call to stay at home, he explained. However, some people travelling from the UK spread the virus after they arrived to attend three funerals.
The virus then continued to spread because some people simply didn’t know they had caught it.
“For ten days, municipality officials have been patrolling the streets to confirm that there is no unnecessary traffic, no gatherings in homes or anywhere else, and generally the ministry of health’s decrees on restricting citizens’ movements are complied with,” Evangelides said.
“After the tests, we are determined to close down those businesses whose owners or staff test positively for the coronavirus.”
The decision to go ahead with the tests was made despite reports that some are reluctant to be part of the project.
When the tests were first considered, Evangelides pointed out there is a fear of social stigma surrounding the virus.
“The first three cases of coronavirus found in Aradippou were bullied so much that entire families locked themselves up in their homes,” he said on Thursday.
He added most are ashamed to take the test.
Testing 1,000 Paphos residents for the coronavirus will also start on Saturday.
Samples will be selected according to criteria set by the epidemiological survey unit of the ministry.
After receiving the approval of the committee for personal data protection which has already been contacted, the health insurance organisation will proceed with the sampling.
Mobile testing units will be installed, most likely in the premises of the district administration.
The municipality of Paphos, the municipality of Peyia, the communities of Chlorakas and Emba, as well as the Paphos chamber of commerce and industry and the area branch of the Cyprus Hotel Association (Pasyxe) district committee will each contribute €10,000, while the ministry of health will contribute €50,000 towards the costs.
The Paphos municipality announced it will support the effort with its staff and volunteers.
The Geroskipou municipality has also started testing for the virus, it announced on Friday.
According to an announcement, testing started on Thursday in collaboration with an authorised private company.
For now, 100 people will be tested, those working in public places and businesses which are open to the public.
The municipality is discussing the possibility of additional subsidised tests with the ministry of health.
According to the latest data provided by the health ministry’s epidemiological surveillance unit, of the 60 cases detected in the Larnaca district until the end of March, 39 were reported in Aradippou. Cases in Aradippou are mainly women (59 per cent) and the median age is 61 years.
In Paphos, 61 cases were recorded, 34 of which concern health-care workers mostly working at the town’s general hospital.
In total 183 locally acquired infections were recorded concerning index cases and close-contacts of confirmed cases, which amount to 69 per cent of the overall cases. Of those, 20 per cent, 37 persons, were related to the Paphos general hospital and 17.5per cent, 32 persons, were reported in Aradippou.