Cyprus and Israel agreed on Tuesday to further bolster cooperation on health issues, including the transfer of patients, medical personnel and supplies in cases of emergency such as natural disasters and conflict.

The decision was taken during a visit to Cyprus by Israel’s Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz for talks with his Cypriot counterpart Michalis Hadjipantela.

The two also agreed to activate and widen cooperation in transplants and to ensure reserves of medical equipment, the health ministry said.

Speaking to the media, Hadjipantela said the health ministry had excellent cooperation with Israel, which always supports Cyprus when complicated medical cases arise.

“We discussed specific ways to deepen our cooperation with Israel and we have agreed that in the event of an emergency, there will be an agreement so that patients from Cyprus or Israel are transferred to the hospitals of the other country,” he said.

They also agreed for medical personnel from Cyprus and Israel to be trained in the other country to be ready to handle such emergencies should the need arise. Arrangements will be made to have medical equipment available.

He said discussions had also covered activating the agreement on transplants so that the first such transplants involving patients of the two countries at each other’s hospitals can be carried out.

As regards Covid-19, the two agreed on close cooperation between the two countries with frequent exchange of information to better manage a potential new surge in infections.

Asked whether there was a worrying increase in the number of coronavirus cases, Hadjipantela said both the number of infections and hospitalisations were being carefully monitored and additional measures will be taken if called for.

Horowitz meanwhile underlined the friendship between Cyprus and Israel, two countries he described as allies with excellent relations in all sectors.

The aim of his visit is to further bolster ties as regards medical services and the health system, he said.

“We are not just close geographically, but we share common values, interests and strategy. We also discussed other health issues such as transplants, as well as cooperation between Cypriot and Israeli hospitals, which is currently very good, to the benefit of the two countries.”

As regards coronavirus, he noted he will be visiting the reference hospital for Covid-19 in Paralimni to see how Cyprus manages its patients and determine whether there was room for cooperation.

“Unfortunately, we have had an increase in coronavirus infections in Israel in recent weeks, that is why during our meeting we exchanged information on this issue too so that we can cooperate in the future,” he said.