TRNC RAMPS UP RESTRICTIONS
Taken from this weeks issue
By GÜLDEREN ÖZTANSU and ELTAN HALİL
NORTH Cyprus has entered a “full lockdown” after Prime Minister Hamza Ersan Saner announced strict new measures on Thursday night – while Near East University said yesterday that a “mutation” of the coronavirus first seen in the UK has been found in the TRNC.
As of 8pm yesterday, February 4, a full curfew is in place in all parts of the country until at least 5am on Monday, February 15.
Only “essential” businesses such as petrol stations, butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers and supermarkets will remain open, between the hours of 8am and 5pm.
Tomorrow, February 7, and on Sunday, February 14, all shops and businesses, except for duty chemists, will be closed.
The number of duty chemists has been doubled and they will operate from 8am to midnight. Banks will be closed from February 8 to February 12. Restaurants providing takeaway and delivery services have been closed.
A police statement issued yesterday in Turkish and English said: “All individuals, with the exception of private sector personnel who are permitted to work addressing basic needs as well as public sector personnel who provide crucial services (police, fire department, municipalities, civil defence, health workers and district offices, etc.), are forbidden to leave their residences from 8pm on February 5, 2021, until 5am on February 15, 2021.
“Entry/exit between districts will not be allowed. Police officers, health professionals, elderly care centres, yellow press cardholders and/or press workers, private laboratory [workers], civil aviation [staff] and fire fighters will continue their services.”
The police statement stressed that “exercising outside of homes and all sporting activities will be banned during this period”.
The statement added: “Emergency [repair] services of internet service providers will continue. Private security firms will continue to work. Bottled water and beverage producers, distributors and sellers [will] continue to serve.
“Individuals with permission from district authorities to acquire goods or services from open businesses must do so from stores or offices located nearest to their place of residence.
“Import and export sectors, as well as their transport services, will continue to operate.
“Application[s] for permits in emergency situations [can be obtained online from] https://permissions.gov.ct.tr/street.
“All members of the public are urged to adhere to the decisions. Those who violate the conditions will be subject to legal prosecution.”
A police spokesman told Cyprus Today yesterday that special permission is not required to travel to businesses located close to a person’s home.
The extra measures, which came on top of the extension of the previously announced nationwide lockdown on Tuesday, were taken after the number of Covid-19 cases hit new highs this week.
On Thursday 80 new Covid-19 cases, only one which was from abroad, were recorded. Sixty-nine were “local cases” while 10 were “cases that became positive in quarantine” the Health Ministry announced.
The rise in cases coincided with increased testing, with a record 6,937 tests performed on Thursday.
As of February 4 there were 145 Covid-19 patients receiving treatment in the “pandemic centre” with 454 people in pandemic hotels. Thirteen people were in intensive care.
Lefkoşa State Hospital’s Dr Şükrü Onbaşı said the Covid-19 patients who are currently being treated in intensive care are aged from 35 to 64.
“We are exhausted, but we try to keep ourselves motivated. We’ll not give in,” he told BRT TV.
Research findings released by Near East University (NEU) yesterday showed that the “B117” variant of the coronavirus had been detected in nine of 17 samples analysed at the university’s PCR test laboratory between November 2020 and February 2021.
The new more infectious “British variant” of the virus was first detected in the TRNC on January 13, a press statement from NEU said, adding that “80 per cent of cases in February have originated from the mutant virus”.
The sharp rise in Covid-19 cases led to the Communicable Diseases High Committee and Health Minister Ali Pilli to issue warnings that the health system was on the brink of being overwhelmed, while President Ersin Tatar warned that Covid-19 cases could “peak” tomorrow.
On Thursday the Health Ministry had to temporarily suspend compulsory PCR testing of people who work in businesses that are still open after huge queues formed outside test centres.
Issuing a statement on Thursday, after press reports showed people apparently ignoring lockdown rules by walking their dogs and going to parks, Dr Pilli said: “If we want to protect our family and loved ones, we should abide by the [rules]. We would like to defeat the spread [of Covid-19] however we must all pull together.
“Put your trust in yourselves and then in us in this struggle. We are putting in a tremendous effort to defeat this pandemic. But all members of the public need to contribute.
“Please stay home for a while and cut contacts with the outside. We have to do this in order to bring the pandemic under control. Please do not leave your homes unless necessary and abide by hygiene rules if you do have to go out. We are at risk as a community.
“[Otherwise] the spread [of Covid-19] cannot be brought under control.”
A statement from the Health Ministry earlier in the week said that he country’s health system “will soon be unable to cope with the increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases” and that a “consensus has been reached that the [previous] measures taken were not sufficient and that measures and inspections will be increased”.
Meanwhile in Girne it was reported that police officers were driving around neighbourhoods using loud speakers telling people: “Do not leave your homes if not necessary. Stay at home for your health.”
ANOTHER 2,250 Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines from the EU were delivered to the TRNC via South Cyprus at the Metehan checkpoint yesterday morning, Health Minister Ali Pilli announced.
Those who have already had one jab of the Pfizer vaccine will start receiving the second jab from February 8 onwards, Dr Pilli said.
They should attend the Trenyolu polyclinic in Lefkoşa or the İskele Health Centre on the dates on their vaccination cards, Dr Pilli said.
In separate comments this week Dr Pilli said that the vaccination programme for those aged under 65 will be determined by Friday, February 12.
The country currently has capacıty to administer 5,000 jabs a day, which can be raised to 10,000, he added.