Compulsory testing for Covid-19 within 48 hours of visits to a plethora of locations has been reintroduced by the government, Health Minister Popi Kanari said on Friday.

Kanari was speaking during a visit to the Limassol General hospital, and clarified that “everyone who enters hospitals, nursing homes, closed spaces [providing care to vulnerable groups], doctors’ offices, and dentists’ offices” will have to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 48 hours of their visit.

She said the tightening of measures “had to be done, because in recent weeks, we have seen an increase [in cases] and the data until yesterday shows that we have around 3,600 cases of Covid-19.”

She added that she believes that figures released on Friday would show a further increase in the number of cases.

“Unfortunately, a great number of these people are elderly. That is why we started yesterday with mobile units in the effort to vaccinate all the elderly living in nursing homes,” she said.

She added that the government had also taken this decision as “initially, there was a refusal on the part of their relatives to get their elderly family members and themselves vaccinated.”

Speaking about the current nature of the virus itself, she said “the virus which is now circulating is very different from previous incarnations and only this specific vaccine, which we are offering in our vaccination centres, has a 60 to 70 protection rate.”

“It is for this reason that we recommend that every family, the elderly, vulnerable groups get vaccinated to have this protection. We do not want them to suffer, and we do not want the health system to be burdened by beds filling up, especially in public hospitals,” she said.

In addition to the government’s decree, she said the government is issuing “recommendations” to the general public to limit their movements and wear masks.

“Although we cannot stop people who have Covid-19 form moving around, we should at least have the personal responsibility to know that we can pass on the virus to vulnerable people who may end up in hospital,” she said.

She added that the government recommends that people wear masks “in places where there are many people”, and for health professionals to regularly test themselves for the virus.

As well as these recommendations, she said she expects the education ministry to make recommendations for measures for schools to take prior to their reopening on Monday.

Among those recommendations, she said, will be a provision for parents to keep their children off school should they catch Covid-19.

“If there is a serious problem, they should at least inform teachers, school staff, they should wear masks and the teaching staff should be on alert, and there should be good ventilation in the classrooms,” she said.