Travellers coming to Cyprus testing positive for the Omicron variant of coronavirus and their close contacts will have to self-isolate, the health ministry told the Cyprus Mail on Monday.
They were responding to questions around the new quarantine rules announced earlier in the day amid a general tightening of Covid protocols in anticipation of a potential Omicron surge in Cyprus.
All identified or suspected Omicron cases are currently quarantining at Eden rehabilitation centre, but the ministry later clarified that this will not be the case for all Omicron cases.
As the rules stand at present, they must self-isolate at their hotel or at home, as must their close contacts regardless of vaccination status.
As per the government’s latest decree, until January 10 all inbound travellers, regardless of whether they are tourists or residents, will have to undergo PCR testing at airports and foot the cost of the test, which is around €15.
It has been recommended that they self-isolate while the PCR results come out, which normally takes between three and four hours.
Ministry spokesman Konstantinos Athanasiou told the Cyprus Mail that in a scenario where someone’s PCR test comes back positive, they will be required to self-isolate in place at their hotel or home while their test is sent for sequencing.
As of this coming Wednesday, travellers will also have to get a rapid test within 72 hours of their arrival, which they can get for free at health ministry testing sites upon presentation of their boarding pass.
Athanasiou also said that while self-isolation if not a positive case is not a requirement, the ministry strongly suggests that people are particularly careful in the time between their arrival and their rapid test, even if they tested negative in their PCR as their rapid test might end up showing a different result.
This is to prevent spreading the virus in case they happen to later test positive, “which is what happened with some contacts of the pupils from Limassol” who were the first Omicron cases in the Republic.
All positive tests will be sequenced, which takes an extra day or two, and according to the decisions announced on Monday, those identified as Omicron cases and their close contacts will need to go into mandatory self-isolation.
Until January 15, all vaccinated close contacts will also need to self-isolate and take a rapid test within 72 hours and a PCR after a week – unless they are vaccinated with a booster, in which case they are exempt from having to take the tests.
Contacts of Omicron cases must self-isolate regardless of their vaccination status.
Athanasiou said that personal doctors will inform their patients on how to arrange a free PCR through the health ministry if they are identified as a contact.