For the first time since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, more coronavirus cases were recorded in the north than in the Republic on Tuesday, Turkish Cypriot media reported on Wednesday.
According to Avrupa, nine people tested positive on Tuesday after a total of 1,695 tests, bringing the total to 230. All nine were travellers – seven came in by air and two by boat.
This was one more than the eight recorded in the Republic after 4,315 tests. The total number of cases recorded in the Republic is 1,359.
More coronavirus cases have been recorded in the north in the six weeks since air and sea links resumed with Turkey than the first four months of the pandemic – 108 from the start of the outbreak to the end of June compared to 122 in the past month and a half.
Meanwhile, ‘health minister’ Ali Pilli has attributed the mistake in reporting the number of positive cases among travellers to a technical problem which he said would soon be resolved.
This follows protests from businessmen in the ferry sector criticising authorities in the north for mistakenly saying that most imported cases had come by boat, whereas in fact they had had come by plane.
According to Yeni Duzen the latest figures show 64 positive cases among passengers who had come by air, 28 by boat, 11 were contacts and two were local. It has still to be clarified how the remaining 11 contracted the virus.
Pilli told the newspaper that the mistake had occurred in recording the passengers and the results of the diagnostic tests and will be corrected. Passengers who test positive will be quarantined, he added.
Earlier this week, the Turkish Cypriot authorities lowered the maximum of people allowed in daily from the ports in Kyrenia and Famagusta to 250 from 400.
All of them will be given PCR tests and they will wait at the ports until the results of their test.
The ‘cabinet’ also decided there will be an increase in random testing for people crossing from the checkpoints and across the north.
Announcing the measures, ‘Deputy Prime Minister’ Kudret Ozersay said random tests will be conducted on people crossing and on people returning from abroad with a negative PCR result.
Authorities are also under fire for delays in building a hospital for coronavirus patients next to the Nicosia Hospital but for which construction has not yet started. Covid-19 patients are treated at Nicosia or Famagusta hospitals and some privately.