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Coronavirus: No need to change crossing point procedures at present, expert says (Updated)

Workers at the Turkish Cypriot administration in the north staged a 24-hour strike on Thursday, demanding to work on a rotation system because of a recent spike in coronavirus cases.

Two workers at the ‘finance ministry’ tested positive for the virus on Wednesday while another was detected at the office of the ‘supreme court president’ forcing her to be quarantined despite testing negative.

Schools will remain closed until October 1 as part of strict measures announced on Wednesday apart from nurseries and private schools for special groups of pupils.

Flights and ferry services have been suspended until October 1. Only the Turkish military will be allowed in on ships.

Also Wednesday, four Turkish nationals with coronavirus were flown to Turkey as health authorities struggled in the overfilled Covid hospital.

Patients were also moved from an ICU in Nicosia on Wednesday to make space for people suffering from the virus.

The total number of cases in the north was 494 along with four deaths.

Turkish Cypriot authorities require people arriving from category B countries to quarantine for seven days, and people from category C countries for 14 days.

People testing positive to coronavirus are also quarantined as are their contacts. These people stay in hotels monitored by authorities.

A Greek Cypriot expert said the crossing points with the north is under control at the moment.

Member of the health ministry’s advisory committee, virologist Petros Karayiannis said current measures at the crossing points were adequate at the moment, despite the spike in cases in the north.

“I think they are adequate at least for those who cross occasionally because they have to present a negative test,” he told the Cyprus News Agency. “We don’t have tourists going and coming so it is only Greek and Turkish Cypriots who commute.”

However, Karayiannis suggested paying a little more attention to those who cross frequently, like pupils, Maronites and Greek Cypriots living in the north. A number of Turkish Cypriots also cross to receive healthcare.

“More attention is needed there. Of course, I hope they manage to contain it because it also concerns us directly,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Greek Cypriot co-chair of the bicommunal committee on health said he was in touch with his Turkish Cypriot counterpart.

Leonidas Phylactou said they discussed the situation and the measures rolled out by Turkish Cypriot health authorities in a bid to contain the outbreak.

Phylactou has briefed Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou on the matter.

“We are in contact with the Turkish Cypriots on a regular basis,” he said.

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