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Cyprus

Coronavirus: Easter likely to be a quiet affair

Easter in Cyprus last year was spent under lockdown. Pictured: people following the Easter mass from their homes

Cypriots will celebrate Easter in a closed family circle this year, a health ministry advisor said on Monday in the run up to the epidemiologists’ weekly meeting to discuss possible relaxations to measures.

Speaking to the CyBC, Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Virology at the University of Nicosia Medical School, Petros Karayiannis said this Easter celebrations will be held in a smaller circle than previous years.

“I think we could have Easter with some restrictions,” Karayiannis said, if the public understands and pays attention on how infections are increasing.

Government advisors are expected to meet on Tuesday to prepare recommendations on possible measure relaxations during the holidays.

While restaurants and cafés reopened last month following a three month lockdown, an overnight curfew remains in place and residents must send an SMS to justify their movement. Outings are allowed twice per day and three times at the weekends.

“There will be relaxations if we are careful in the next one or two weeks and our [epidemiological] picture improves,” Karayiannis said.

The country showed an increased infection rate which has been attributed to the UK variant B.1.1.7 of the virus, said to be 70 per cent more infectious than other variants, as reported in the recent epidemiological report.

The decision to return to stricter coronavirus measures will be taken only “if there is something catastrophic” the professor said, “if we surpass the 1,000 cases per day”.

To date, up to six people from different households can gather in one house. Church services are carried out with a maximum of 75 people inside the building.

The importance of maintaining a stable closed circle known as a “social bubble” was reiterated by the health ministry over Christmas, in accordance with the European centre for disease prevention (ECDC) recommendations.

Last year, initial thoughts to transfer Easter to a later date were quickly set aside and the country celebrated amidst strict coronavirus measures, a month after the pandemic outbreak on the island. The SMS system was enforced, while church services were carried out without a congregation.

On April 19, 2020, the day of Orthodox Easter, Cyprus recorded six new cases of coronavirus.

Today, cases are well above 400, with the highest number this month being 705 new cases on April 2.

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