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Coronavirus: Cabinet to discuss widening Test to Stay

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Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas will ask cabinet to expand the test to stay initiative to hospital personnel and the security forces, the Cyprus News Agency reported on Tuesday citing informed sources.

It added that at its meeting on Wednesday, cabinet is also expected to decide to lift a ban on dancing at nightclubs and at weddings as a small, first step in easing restrictive measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Test to stay was introduced at schools on Monday to enable pupils who are contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases to go to class provided they test negative each day for six consecutive days. The scheme is optional and applies only at school with children obliged to self-isolate for the rest of the day.

The health minister has indicated that if successful in schools, the system could be extended to cover medical professionals and security forces, thus easing the pressure on over-stretched personnel. But it was not clear whether it would be optional – as in schools – and apply only for work hours.

The issue was due to be discussed by Hadjipantelas and the government’ team of scientific advisors as part of their regular meeting later on Tuesday.

The Cyprus News Agency said that extending test to stay to hospitals and security forces would be the main issue on the agenda. It added that it was “almost certain” that a proposal would go to cabinet on Wednesday.

The health minister was also expected to propose replacing the PCR test carried out by a close contact on the seventh day to be released from self-isolation with a rapid test.

Other minor relaxations could get the green light on Wednesday, among them ending a prohibition on dancing in clubs, at weddings and christenings, with the proposal also expected to be discussed on Tuesday.

The experts and health minister are also expected to have a first discussion regarding access of under 18- year-olds to hospitality venues. According to the news agency, there are thoughts of allowing them in with a 24-hour negative rapid test, without any vaccination requirements, although the health ministry is said to be hesitant to make such a move.

Another proposal to be discussed is a fourth shot for vulnerable groups of the population and the immuno-suppressed, though here too the health ministry does not appear to be leaning towards such a move, the news agency said.

Finally, it said it was almost certain that there will no proposals to ease restrictions for the non-vaccinated, nor are stricter measures expected to be proposed by the scientific advisors.

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