South Cyprus: Gradual opening of checkpoints ‘reasonable arrangement’ says expert

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South Cyprus: Gradual opening of checkpoints ‘reasonable arrangement’ says expert 14

From a scientific perspective, the gradual opening of the checkpoints on the Green Line is a ‘very reasonable arrangement’, one of the experts advising the government on the coronavirus situation in South Cyprus told CNA on Sunday.

Petros Karayiannis, a member of the team of scientific advisors on Covid-19, spoke to CNA ahead of tomorrow’s teleconference of the bicommunal technical committee on health.

Five members of the team of advisors will also be taking part in the teleconference.

Karayianis said the aim was for scientists to exchange views on the epidemiological situation on each side of the Green Line. He expressed the hope that there will be positive and constructive climate “so that we can determine if the picture of the Northside reflects reality.”

Participants cannot discuss political issues but will focus on purely scientific data, he said.

The team of scientists also want to know what measures will be taken by the Turkish Cypriot side so that coronavirus is not imported from Turkey once air and sea links resume.

President Nicos Anastasiades and President Mustafa Akinci have agreed in principle to the gradual reopening of the checkpoints beginning from June 8 when crossing with be allowed at checkpoints where movement is by car for the following categories:

  1. Turkish Cypriots who work or study in South Cyprus or who undergo treatment at the Cyprus Oncology Centre, the Cyprus Institute for Neurology and Genetics and public and private hospitals of the Republic
  2. Greek Cypriots and Maronites who live permanently in the North

Crossings will continue for humanitarian reasons, it was also agreed.

Regarding the epidemiological situation in the South, Karayiannis said that most of the positive cases in recent days were imported. There were only two cases from tracing of already positive cases which may be older, he added.

Karayiannis added that we should not be looking so much as the number of cases but admissions to hospitals. For weeks now, there have been no admissions as a result of heavy illness from the virus.

The same applies to the number of intubated patients which remains steady. “All this shows us that there is no community spread,” he told CNA.

Asked about the option of a gradual reopening of checkpoints, he said this was a very logical possibility.

“With the relaxation of our measures we moved in stages, evaluating the situation after a time period before moving on to the second phase. I think a similar approach should be used here, so that if things go well and there are no transmissions on either side, then we can move ahead with more opening,” of the checkpoints.

Karayiannis said that Monday’s teleconference is also expected to discuss how checks will be carried out the checkpoints.

The scientific team of advisors will hold a meeting with President Anastasiades on Tuesday to discuss the coronavirus situation and the relaxations of phase three, which begins on June 9 and includes the reopening of the airports.

He did not rule out Anastasiades asking to be briefed on conclusions of the teleconference of the technical committee regarding the gradual opening of the checkpoints.

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