The Association of Cypriot Pensioners, Ekysy, on Wednesday blasted inadequate measures at the island’s care homes which it said has led to a surge in coronavirus cases among residents and voiced concern over what to happen should the outbreaks worsen further.
More than 200 elderly residents of care homes have tested positive for Covid-19 in November. One in four of the 68 patients currently at Famagusta general, which is the referral hospital for coronavirus, are elderly people who were admitted from nursing homes while several have died from the virus, it added.
“Ekysy once more asks the health and labour ministries and the owners of care homes to take additional and stricter measures if necessary, so as to protect the health of residents and employees,” it said.
All staff and residents should be tested more regularly for Covid-19 and these tests should be free of charge, the NGO added. Moreover, the labour ministry should step up checks to ensure compliance with health protocols.
Later on Wednesday, the government announced that rapid testing will be extended and 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.
Ekysy also queried why the ministry had not drawn up a plan of action to deal with outbreaks and pre-empt the ‘unacceptable phenomenon’ of a private care home closing and asking relatives of residents to make alternative arrangements.
Last week, the health and labour ministries had to scramble to find accommodation for more than a dozen residents of a care home in Latsia which ceased operation because it did not have the staff and facilities to isolate residents who had come into contact with coronavirus cases. Several were hospitalised and others taken to other care homes.