Cyprus Reports 3-Month High in Virus Cases


Cyprus health authorities on Wednesday reported a three-month high of new COVID-19 infections, 13 cases, including seven from a cluster in the southern port city of Limassol. 

The uptick came three days before the Mediterranean holiday island is set to re-open to tourists from Britain, its largest market.

The island's outbreak had peaked in April with a high of 58 cases, but since the end of that month, daily infections had been in single figures. 

Cyprus issued a commercial flight ban on March 21 as part of its lockdown measures, which along with rigorous testing had sent new cases as low as zero new cases a day.

The Republic of Cyprus, which earns about 15 percent of its GDP and welcomed a record 3.97 million visitors last year, has promoted itself as a safe destination and lifted the flight ban on June 9.

But many of those diagnosed recently had a travel history, the health ministry said.

Four of the cases reported Thursday were contacts of a Cypriot couple who returned to the island on July 17 from the Netherlands and later tested postive for the disease. 

Among the Limassol cases were two who had returned from the UK and one from a Greek island. 

Cyprus has confirmed 1,080 coronavirus cases since the outbreak in March, including 19 deaths. 

The breakaway north has reported over 130, including four deaths.

Earlier Wednesday, members of the government's epidemiological advisory team said they would propose additional measures focusing on the cluster in Limassol. 

Government officials warned against complacency on Wednesday, urging the public to maintain social distancing, wear protective masks wherever possible and observe personal hygiene.

So far, imposing a local lockdown in Limassol has been ruled out, but extra measures like more tests are expected to be announced by Friday.

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