A team of trained volunteers will start carrying out checks in nursing homes to make sure all protocols are being properly implemented, the health ministry said on Tuesday.
A 30-member team of medical students will visit nursing homes and other establishments such as day care and rehabilitation centres to check on the measures against the spreading of coronavirus, Health Minister Costantinos Ioannou told Politis radio.
“There is a visible risk of transmission from the staff of the homes to the residents, which is what has happened, despite any measures we announced,” Ioannou said.
“This means that the measures were not implemented,” he added.
The team will be able to identify any problems based on a checklist provided by the ministry. After the check, they pass on remarks and instructions, the minister said.
The decision was announced following the increased number of cases seen in nursing homes and after epidemiologists in the ministry’s scientific unit expressed concern last week.
On Monday, the ministry announced 15 coronavirus cases were traced in a nursing home in Peristerona.
Earlier this month, Sokratio care home in Episkopi, Limassol recorded more than 35 coronavirus cases and four residents have since died with coronavirus.
Timotheo, another nursing home in Latsia, Nicosia has recorded ten coronavirus cases. Seven of those patients were moved to Limassol general hospital, three to Eden rehabilitation centre and the other residents to different care homes to prevent the spread of the virus.
Another 15 cases were recorded in Panayia nursing home in Limassol last week.
A Kyperounta nursing home has recorded more than 30 coronavirus cases, one of whom is being treated at the Famagusta referral hospital.
The state health services organisation Okypy said approximately 25 per cent of the patients treated in Famagusta reference hospital for coronavirus are elderly residents from care homes.
Meanwhile, president of the association of nursing homes Loukia Gregoriou told the Cyprus Mail they cannot control the private lives of care home employees but that everyone must “have a clear conscience when they go to work”.
Gregoriou said the association requested an action plan be drafted for nursing homes after the outbreak of the pandemic but it was never provided.
The association said the ministry should be responsible for removing those with coronavirus from care homes to prevent the spread of the virus.
“If the first cases reported by a care home are immediately removed, the spread of the virus will be avoided,” Gregoriou said.
Okypy’s spokesperson Charalambos Charilaou, however, said nursing homes do not fall under the organisation’s responsibilities.