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Coronavirus: arrivals in the north to be tagged to ensure they stay in quarantine

Authorities in the north announced they would start using electronic wristbands to monitor people who are supposed to be self-isolating as part of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, reports said on Thursday.

According to Turkish Cypriot media, ‘health minister’ Ali Pilli said that they would be introducing the use of electronic wristbands to monitor people who self-isolate at home.

So far, people who test positive and their contacts are placed in quarantine hotels for better monitoring.

Pilli said they were now starting to make arrangements for house quarantine, hence the electronic wristbands.

Initially, he said, they would try this on 250 people adding that these wristbands would be put on passengers arriving in the north by plane as of Monday. He said that teams would be strengthened for physical monitoring as well as electronic monitoring.

Pilli recalled that people found violating quarantine regulations were subject to up to a two-year prison sentence.

He added that though there was no “scary picture” regarding Covid-19 for now, it was important to act cautiously.

He said cases in the north increase from time to time, but that the number decreased to a certain level due to more efforts made. Pilli called on people to wear masks, social distance and apply the hygiene rules.

In the meantime, it was reported that two more Turkish Cypriots living in the UK died from coronavirus.

The pandemic but also the tumbling of the Turkish lira, which is the currency used in the north, have taken their toll on the breakaway regime’s economy.

According to a report by the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce (KTTO), the economy has deteriorated while there is talk of severe impoverishment.

Daily Halkin Sesi reports that there has been a 30 per cent drop in imports, while the economy is expected to shrink by 11.04 per cent in 2020. “There is a possibility that this percentage will rise to 26.4 per cent,” the report said, adding that domestic VAT was reduced by 15 per cent while import VAT was reduced by 28per cent.

Losses from fees on ‘property titles’ amounted to about 28 per cent while the loss on revenues from the privatisation of Tymbou (Ercan) reached 60 per cent.

According to the report, newspaper Halkin Sesi said, the growth in 2019 was the lowest of the last decade, while the data for 2020 was not good at all.

Head of the KTTO, Turgay Deniz, said that the north was going through a serious process of impoverishment and called for a reduction of VAT and other taxes and fees to reduce the cost of daily life and avoid burdening public funds.

Deniz said that due to the plunge in the Turkish lira and the reduction of aid from Turkey, in 2018 economy in the north showed stagnation and the growth rate was 1.3 per cent, while this stagnation worsened in 2019, when the growth rate fell to 0.2 per cent. He also said that inflation in July-September rose to 6.1 per cent which shows that 2021 will be a will be a more difficult year for public finances.

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