Minister: We will switch to home quarantine system ‘after April 1’

  Mar 29, 2021 10:00 am Ibrar Younas 1711
AN ELECTRONIC tagging system for home quarantine will be introduced “within the first weeks of April”, Health Minister Ünal Üstel said this week.

Minister: We will switch to home quarantine system ‘after April 1’

Taken from this week's issue

 

By GÜLDEREN ÖZTANSU

Some people are already being allowed to self-isolate at home instead of at quarantine hotels, the minister revealed.

Asked in an interview if the TRNC was ready to start the new home quarantine system with electric wristbands after April 1, as he had previously stated, Mr Üstel replied: “That’s correct, but we didn’t say April 1 as an exact [start] date. We will switch to home quarantine after April 1; but after that I explained that this [scheme] is run collectively between several ministries. . . We already started home quarantine for chronic patients, mothers with children below a certain age and people aged 65 and above after I came to office . . . because these things are not easy to go through under quarantine.”

Those returning to the TRNC after having an operation have also been allowed to self-isolate, the minister said. 

He continued: “Just send us your doctor’s report, let our [health] board examine it. By signing a letter of undertaking, we allow home quarantine if the board approves it, and our call centre follows it up.”

Explaining that the new home quarantine system will work with “digital bracelets” Mr Üstel said that the project will involve the police, the Finance Ministry and the Interior Ministry working together and that procurement agreement for the technology with a private company is being finalised.

“Our goal is to . . . gradually switch to home quarantine for the masses, without risking public health. As such we will switch over in April. 

“At first it will be families with children and chronic patients and then tourism will be opened with the digital bracelet. . . We are giving responsibility to the people who are going to quarantine and we want the local community to regulate this too.” 

The update came after the Council of Ministers decided last Friday to “identify the criteria for home quarantine, establish a bracelet control and trace system, establish teams for follow-up and inspections, implement penalties within the scope of the Communicable Diseases Law within the framework of inspections, and initiate studies for those who do not adhere to home quarantine to be sent to central quarantine and make them pay their own quarantine costs”. 

Ministers also decided at the meeting that “indoor hotel tourism” for stays of up to three days could begin on April 12 but only if the “implementation and regulation” of the electronic tagging system is in place.

Speaking in Parliament, Prime Minister Hamza Ersan Saner said on Thursday that “the footprints” of Covid-19 contacts, as well as those who come into the country, will be recorded and any caught breaking the home quarantine rules will be punished.

Under the proposed new system, the authorities will know if “citizens or tourists” have gone to their homes or hotels after arriving at the airport, if they stayed at their destination for the duration of the quarantine and if they hosted any guests. 

Zeki Çeler, an opposition MP of the Social Democracy Party, suggested that TRNC citizens who violate home quarantine should be fined three times the monthly minimum wage while non-citizens should be fined the same amount and deported. 

The Council of Ministers, which was meeting yesterday, was expected to announce further updates on the matter.

In other Covid-related developments:

  • Mr Üstel said a “substantial amount of vaccines” may arrive in the TRNC in the coming days.
  • The Helath Ministry announced yesterday that 75,000 fast antigen tests were sent from the EU to North Cyprus and collected from the Metehan checkpoint.
  • Near East University researchers concluded that there are “at least eight different variants” of the coronavirus in North Cyprus. 

Meanwhile a 43-year old female Covid-19 patient who was being treated in the intensive care unit of the Pandemic Hospital since March 6 died on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 25. 

The patient was admitted to the hospital after being diagnosed with Covid-19 on March 1, a Health Ministry statement said.

A 52 year-old male patient who was being treated in the intensive care unit of the Pandemic Hospital died on Wednesday, but his death was due to “complications caused by an acute cerebrovascular incident” and not Covid-19, the Health Ministry said. 



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