Turkish Cypriot authorities appeared to reverse an earlier decision to ask for a negative PCR coronavirus test done inside 24 hours before crossing to the north, reports said on Monday.
The Cyprus News Agency said Turkish Cypriots have gone back to the previous regime of asking for a negative PCR test taken in the past 72 hours before crossing. No other details were immediately available.
The government raised the matter with the UN on Monday, arguing that the new measures meant it was practically impossible to cross over to the north.
The matter was discussed at the bicommunal technical committee on health.
The Greek Cypriot co-chairman Leonidas Phylactou said they told their Turkish Cypriot colleagues that there was no time to get a PCR so frequently.
The restriction meant residents of the Tylliria region were prevented from travelling to Nicosia through the Limnitis crossing point as were teachers working in Rizokarpaso schools, who either use the crossings daily or cross on Monday and returned on Friday.
Presidential commissioner Photis Photiou said the north has made exceptions for Turkish Cypriots working or studying in the government-controlled areas.
“If the real reason of the measures is the epidemiological situation in the free areas, the teachers, Kato Pyrgos residents and some groups of enclaved people with problems could be included in these exceptions,” Photiou said.
The latest changes were made after eight Greek Cypriots infected with the virus were detected in Rizokarpaso.
Among them is an 11-year-old child and an 11-month-old infant, mayor Suphi Coskun said. In a written statement, he reported six of the eight were taken to the south while two are being treated in hospitals in the north. Six people living in the Maronite village of Kormakitis, were also found positive for coronavirus.
Photiou said that the eight people in Rizokarpaso are well including the infant who was admitted to the Makarios children’s hospital in Nicosia. Six of the patients were transferred to the government-controlled area and are under the observation of the health ministry. The other two had chosen to spend the day quarantine period in the north.
According to Photiou, the first two cases in Rizokarpaso, a teacher and a cleaning lady at the school, were detected on Friday during tests in schools. After their detection, tests were carried out among all pupils and staff and their contacts.
The schools in Rizokarpaso (kindergarten, primary and high schools) will remain closed this week and classes will be through distant learning.
Photiou said it was not known how the two first cases contracted the virus but that they were in contact with the Greek Cypriot nurse in Rizokarpaso, who, he said, was doing “an excellent job”.
The six people from Kormakitis who tested positive for the virus are now in the south for treatment, he said.