Access to nursing homes, hospitals and similar premises will be allowed to visitors only if they’ve tested negative for Covid-19, the cabinet formally decided on Thursday.

The announced measures to contain the spread of the virus were the same as those agreed a day earlier at a meeting between Health Minister Popi Kanari and the Covid-19 scientific advisory committee – where experts said the Omicron 2 sub-strains, most notably JN.1, have now reached outbreak status.

Under the new measures, a negative rapid or PCR test taken within 48 hours will be mandatory to visit nursing homes, hospitals, outpatient clinics, dentists and any closed facilities taking care of vulnerable groups. This applies to anyone over the age of 12.

Employees in the same premises such as care homes, hospitals or anywhere with elderly and other vulnerable groups will have to wear masks, as will visitors over the age of 12.

Commenting after her meeting with the scientists, Kanari had said that for the time being the government has no plans for tightening up these measures.

The new rules apply once the relevant decree is published in the government gazette. It’s understood this will happen on Friday when the health ministry will also release an explainer.

Meantime also on Thursday the ministry of health advised people aged 60, as well as those with underlying medical conditions, to get jabbed with the latest vaccine against the coronavirus.

Mobile vaccination teams will in coming days conduct another round of nursing homes and other premises hosting vulnerable people.

For the general population, the ministry advises the usual practices – washing hands regularly, airing out closed spaces, isolating people with symptoms, wearing a mask in crowded spaces, and limiting contact with vulnerable persons.