A decision to charge everyone for PCR and rapid tests in the north has prompted protests, the Turkish Cypriot media reported on Thursday, saying authorities are under fire for backtracking on a previous pledge to continue free testing for the vaccinated.
According to the media, ‘prime minister’ Ersan Saner had said that only the unvaccinated would pay for coronavirus tests. But the decision published in the ‘official gazette’ in the north on Thursday makes no such distinction.
The same media quote ‘health minister’ Unal Ustel as saying that the decision that all should pay rested with the budget office and was out of step with reality. He reportedly said that ‘cabinet’ had approved free testing for the vaccinated and payment by those who had not received the jab. He said that many were struggling financially because of the pandemic and queried when the ‘state’ would stand by the people if not now.
Tufan Erhurman, president of the opposition Republican Turkish Party highlighted the confusion, noting that no-one seemed to know what the decision was.
The rumpus comes amid an increase in the number of cases and in Covid-19 patients in the north.
The Cyprus News Agency said that there are currently 91 patients in hospital, 19 of them in the ICU, while preparations are underway to open a new Covid ward at the new hospital for urgent cases in north Nicosia. The chief doctor at the hospital said that the condition of those in intensive care is very serious, especially those who have not been vaccinated.
A second death, that of a 71-year-old woman, was announced in the north on Wednesday bringing the total of coronavirus deaths there to 52 since the start of the pandemic.
Also on Wednesday, 179 new positive cases were reported after 14,103 tests. Overall, 14,244 positive cases have been reported in the north since the coronavirus outbreak.