Cyprus Mail

Coronavirus: Virus still with us says virologist as people crowd cafes, open spaces (Updated)

Senior government scientific advisor Dr Leondios Kostrikis

After people crowded into cafés and restaurants at the weekend following the lifting of restrictions, leading member of the health ministry’s epidemiological team Dr Leontios Kostrikis warned on Monday that the coronavirus was still “with us”.

Speaking on state radio, virologist Kostrikis said he was concerned about the number of young people that were spotted at the coastal road in Limassol. There was also a protest against restrictive measures in the town on Sunday.

“If a case is found in a crowded area, we will not be able to locate it. It will be impossible to do anything,” Kostrikis said, referring to the difficulty of contact tracing.

Coffee shops, bars and restaurants reopened on Thursday to welcome locals after two months of lockdown. According to the health ministry regulations, one person is allowed per two square metres in open space.

Kostrikis said Covid-19 infections might have reduced but the virus remains. He advised people to abide by the measures.

“People are acting as if the virus has disappeared. It did not disappear, it is still among us.”

If cases increase to ten or 15 daily and the epidemiological index surpasses one, then the team will advise the state to tighten the measures, Kostrikis said.

A protest took place on Sunday morning at the seafront in Molos, Limassol against the restrictive measures. Demonstrators argued that Covid-19 health regulations and measures restrict their freedoms.

More than a hundred people participated, while no police appeared at the protest.

A concerned Limassol resident told the Cyprus Mail on Monday that following the lifting of lockdown measures last Thursday, locals seemed just pick up their lives where they left off. “Limassol life is exactly like before the virus” 40-year-old Limassol resident Marina Elftheriou said.

When Eleftheriou tried to contact the local authorities, the municipality referred her to the police. Officers shrugged her off by saying, as a joke that people were celebrating a national holiday on Thursday called “Tsiknopempti”, a holiday that is marked before Lent every year.

“Where are the police in Limassol, the job of the police is to force people abide by the measures,” she said.

Eleftheriou said she reported retail stores who were accepting more people than allowed inside based on their size. She also noted illegalities taking place in a high-class restaurant, she said.

“I am afraid if this continues, we will have a bigger number of cases daily, and more people will die because of the idiocy of some. Is this fair?”

The General Secretary of the Pancyprian Association of Owners of Recreation Centres (Pasika) Fanos Leventis said on Monday that people should not expect to go out partying at this stage.

Leventis called on the members of the association to also respect the health ministry’s regulations.

“It would be a pity and unfair for those few who do not discipline to condemn the whole industry,” he said.

Police appeared to be more lenient towards recreation centres during the first week of reopening, Leventis said, but this period is bound to finish.

His impression was confirmed police spokesperson Christos Andreou when he issued a statement on Monday suggesting police will start intensive checks on businesses.


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