Cyprus Mail

Coronavirus: Experts meet with president, cabinet extends rapid testing scheme (Updated)

Ο Πρόεδρος της Δημοκρατίας κ. Νίκος Αναστασιάδης προεδρεύει σύσκεψης με την επιδημιολογική συμβουλευτική ομάδα για τον κορωνοϊό, Λευκωσία 25 Νοεμβρίου 2020.

President Nicos Anastasiades on Wednesday met with his advisors on the Covid-19 pandemic but there were no announcements relating to restrictions afterwards, as they were pushed to Friday after a new meeting.

Deputy government spokesman Panayiotis Sentonas said the scientists briefed the president on the current epidemiological situation in Cyprus and views and recommendations were tabled.

The meeting was attended by the ministers of health, justice, labour and finance, who would also need to process any new measures.

No decisions were made, with the president convening a new meeting on Friday to discuss the recommendations and make decisions, which will be announced on the same day.

This will give experts the time to process the figures until Friday to get a better picture of the situation.

Reports suggested that a Limassol-style lockdown was not ruled out across the board in the run up to Christmas.

Despite the measures, daily infections have remained in triple figures although the number of tests have increased considerably with the addition of rapid antigen assays.

Health authorities are also concerned about the increase of hospitalisations and the fact that the virus has found its way inside nursing homes and other facilities.

Later on Wednesday, the cabinet approved the procurement of an additional 400,000 rapid antigen tests as part of the health ministry’s strategy to contain the spread of the pandemic through rigorous and systematic testing.

The new batch will be used to extend population screenings already underway. Experts believe aggressive testing and isolating positive cases would contribute to the timely detection and shutdown of infection chains thus reducing the chances of further spread.

The additional tests will also be used to expand testing in the military and schools.

Rapid testing will also be used to screen the personnel and residents — on a weekly and monthly basis respectively — of nursing homes and other similar facilities. These will start as soon as the ongoing PCR screening is completed.

Beyond testing, authorities have trained 40 medical student volunteers, who will undertake briefing and training the managements and staff of such facilities on the proper application of protocols and measures.

The main aim is to create an avenue of communication with these institutions through which clarifications and guidance will be provided to better shield workers and residents.

The volunteerism commissioner will also activate a network of volunteers who will help disseminate information to businesses and supervise the application of protocols in a bid to minimise the possibility of infections in workplaces.


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