The World Health Organization (WHO) will set up regional offices in Cyprus to cover the Mediterranean basin and southeast Europe, dealing mainly with infectious diseases the health ministry’s spokesman Constantinos Athanasiou told the Cyprus News Agency on Friday.

Work is progressing and the regional office, that will be staffed by local experts as well as a foreign expert from WHO, should become operational before the end of the year.

Cyprus was chosen due to its geopolitical position and at the behest of the minister, Athanasiou added.

The setting up of the office was among the issues discussed by Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela by telephone with WHO director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom on Friday, it was announced.

According to an official announcement, the regional offices aim at upgrading preparedness in dealing with emerging and epidemic-prone communicable and zoonotic diseases.

Anthanasiou said that Cyprus expects delivery of the first monkeypox vaccines by the end of August, noting a delay on behalf of the manufacturer.

Some 1,400 vaccines were expected to arrive in Cyprus this week, however due to the global alert issued by WHO, countries that have recorded a significant number of cases have been prioritized.

In the meantime, while no confirmed cases have been recorded in Cyprus, the health ministry has prepared a plan to manage a potential outbreak.

In dealing with possible monkey pox cases, Nicosia general hospital has been designated as a reference hospital for adults and the Makarios hospital for children.

During the telephone conversation, monkeypox data was evaluated, with the minister relayed to WHO’s chief information regarding the protocols drawn up by his ministry as well as about the readiness and competence of services in dealing and managing suspected or confirmed cases of the disease.

WHO’s director general also informed Hadjipantela about the data recorded on the Covid-19 pandemic and on the ways of managing a new wave in view of the coming winter.

It was highlighted that countries must promote vaccination especially of vulnerable groups and promote individual protective measures including the use of mask, distancing, and hand hygiene.