COVID-19 JABS ‘FREE FOR ALL’
Taken from this week's issue
By KEREM HASAN / Chief Reporter
COVID-19 vaccines will be administered for free to everyone in the TRNC, including foreign residents, Health Minister Ali Pilli has told Cyprus Today.
“The vaccines for Covid-19 will arrive into the TRNC as soon as they are purchased by Turkey, which has signed an agreement to buy 50 million vaccines from China,” Dr Pilli said. “There is also preparation for mass production [of a vaccine] by Pfizer and BioNTech, as well as the vaccine that is to be produced by Oxford University.
“I can pledge that the Covid-19 vaccines will be administered for free to all residents in the TRNC, not just TRNC nationals. We are hoping to have the vaccine available in North Cyprus after December.”
Asked who will receive the vaccine first, Dr Pilli said: “There will be certain criteria which will be worked upon, but our priority is to determine that the vaccines do not have any side effects, to see how it goes in Turkey. We need to be cautious.”
Dr Pilli said that about 800 health workers in Turkey had received shots of the Chinese vaccine as an experiment.
“We are hoping to have the vaccine perhaps by December, or by January at the latest,” he added. “I believe that the [corona]virus will be brought under control in 2021.”
The vaccine will involve two injections given three weeks apart, Dr Pilli said.
Answering a question over the scarcity of flu jabs at pharmacies, the price of which has been set at 95.34TL, Dr Pilli said that Turkey had experienced problems obtaining enough doses.
“After they arrive in Turkey, the TRNC will get them. A private company imported 1,300 vaccines but there is obviously a need for more.”
Dr Pilli also revealed that “radical measures” are being taken concerning crossings to the North from South Cyprus.
“Extra measures have been taken that require people to have a [negative] PCR test that is not older than 24hours when crossing,” Dr Pilli said. “This excludes students, health workers and other workers. Greek Cypriots living in Karpaz and Maronites in Koruçam are also exempt.”
The move came as the number of Covid-19 infections in South Cyprus shows no sign yet of abating. It was reported that another 220 cases were recorded on Thursday, along with one Covid-related death, bringing the total deaths so far to 48.
In contrast the TRNC recorded just nine new cases on the same day, all arrivals from abroad, while the death toll to date remains at five, Health Ministry figures showed. Only a handful of cases are receiving treatment in the pandemic centre.
Dr Erdem Aşardağ, an internal medicine expert, issued a warning to the authorities on Wednesday, saying there was a need for extra measures in the TRNC because of the Covid-19 spikes in South Cyprus and in Turkey.
“We hope that our brothers in Turkey and our neighbours in the South reach more secure and healthier days,” he said.
“Both countries have reached the ‘red category’ in terms of infection rates. I call on [Dr] Pilli to [continue] the double PCR testing and a seven- or 14-day quarantine according to the risk factors of the country of origin for passengers coming from abroad.
“Even if it is difficult, having a double PCR [test] followed by quarantine is a measure which only exists in the TRNC. The results are plain to see. We have become an example to the rest of the world.”
FOUR more Turkish Cypriots have died with Covid-19 in the UK, Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay announced on Thursday.
The deaths occurred during the second wave of the virus according to information supplied to Dr Özersay by the TRNC London Representative Office, bringing the total of number of Covid-related deaths of Turkish Cypriots in Britain to 97.