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Who should this community believe and how?
Panic broke out after a female passenger and her child arrived at Kyrenia port displaying symptoms of Covid-19. Health Minister Ali Pilli said the woman told authorities her Covid-19 test was positive and that she had boarded the ship nevertheless. The Public Works Minister Tolga Atakan said PCR testing was not mandatory as the quarantine requirement was still in place. He said that the woman did not have a fever when she boarded the ship. Prime Minister Ersin Tatar said he was saddened by the news and that an inquiry would be launched as to how she was allowed to board the ferry. Later in the afternoon, Health Minister Ali Pilli announced the woman had tested negative for Covid-19.
- “The July 1 decision should be cancelled” – The Turkish Cypriot Doctors’ Association filed a case with the Supreme Court. The association is demanding that passengers arriving from high-risk countries should be placed in mandatory quarantine.
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Everyone is concerned
A woman who arrived in the north by ferry yesterday (Monday) caused panic among the people. It was claimed she had tested positive for Covid-19 in Turkey. As a result, people were asking how she could have boarded the ferry with a positive test result. Turkish Cypriot health minister Ali Pilli added to the confusion when he first confirmed the reports only to announce later in the day she had tested negative for the virus. Pilli also said the number of passengers to arrive and enter the north has been limited according to the north’s testing capacity. He added that the health ministry will soon sign a protocol agreement with Turkey to establish a DNA lab with a 3,000 testing capacity at Ercan (Tymbou) airport. Ersin Tatar said there will be two flights per day from July 1 onwards and 320 people were expected to arrive on a weekly basis. Tatar said there are about 5,000 testing kits available, adding that the government will increase its testing capacity.
Rumours of a coronavirus positive passenger on board a ferry from Turkey sparked panic and chaos. The Turkish Cypriot health minister Ali Pilli’s initial statement confirming that the passenger was positive fuelled more panic. The issue dominated Monday’s plenary after he said she had been taken under quarantine. However, later in the afternoon, Pilli announced that the passenger had tested negative. The opposition parties accused Pilli of making reckless statements fuelling panic.
- Legal action taken against the decision to allow entry into the north without quarantine – The Turkish Cypriot Doctors’ Association filed a lawsuit to revoke the Council of Ministers’ decision allowing arrivals from Turkey from July 1 onwards without the need to quarantine. The court postponed the hearing to July 1 after listening to the arguments presented.
- The latest situation: North 108 cases, four deaths; South 996 cases, 26 deaths; Turkey 198,613 cases, 5,115 deaths.
Annual spending ₺489m (€63.5m)
Despite the fragility of its economy, the TRNC ranks top amongst countries with the highest use of mobile phones. According to statistics, mobile phone and call spending in the TRNC reached ₺489m (€63.5m) last year. The figure for the first three months of this year stands at ₺87.8m (€11.4m). While a consumer in Europe speaks on average 229 minutes per month, this figure stands at 242 in the TRNC.
One case and big panic
The Turkish Cypriot health minister first said “a coronavirus positive passenger arrived in the north through ferry” only to later announce that she had tested negative. Which statement should we believe? The news of a positive case caused the public to panic as there has not been a single case reported for over two months. People have started to question what might happen after July 1. Even though Pilli announced that the passenger was negative, it was not enough to quell the public’s concerns. Pilli also said he did not know how the passenger was allowed to board the ferry. He added that all 19 passengers were taken to a quarantine facility.
- Approved by a unanimous vote – The bill on constitutional amendments was approved by unanimous vote yesterday (Monday).
- Denktaş: “Keyboard chivalry behind a monitor is over” – The new IT law including its sanctions were approved by a majority vote in parliament yesterday (Monday). Social Democratic Party (TDP) voted against it. Republican Turkish Party (CTP) MP Asım Akansoy urged the TDP MPs to vote in favour but they rejected Akansoy’s call. According to Akansoy, the law is the result of contributions from all stakeholders and is designed to protect personal rights as well as freedom of expression.
- Doctors’ Association filed a lawsuit against entry without quarantine requirement – Turkish Cypriot Doctors’ Association filed a lawsuit to revoke the Council of Ministers’ decision allowing arrivals from Turkey from July 1 onwards without the quarantine requirement. The court, after hearing the arguments from the Doctors’ Association, is expected to reach a verdict today (Tuesday).
False Covid-19 case sparks panic, raising concerns about July 1 decisionYenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Avrupa
News of a woman who arrived from Turkey with her child, and was allegedly coronavirus positive, sparked panic in the north on Monday.
The news, which dominated the agenda of Monday’s plenary, came amidst growing concern in the north regarding the government’s decision to open the ports of entry to passengers arriving from Turkey as of July 1.
Several dailies pointed out that the public does not know who or how to trust the authorities, particularly as the mandatory quarantine requirement was being lifted as of Wednesday.
The woman and her child were both taken to Nicosia for testing after it emerged the mother had a slight fever.
To everyone’s relief both tested negative for the virus.
The accompanying passengers on board the ferry, already in quarantine, are being observed.
It was reported that the woman told authorities upon arrival that she believed she was Covid-19 positive.
There were some reports that she had tested positive for the virus in Turkey, which was later dismissed as false.
To add to the confusion, both the Turkish Cypriot health minister Ali Pilli and Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister confirmed the reports while speaking in parliament.
Pilli came under a barrage of criticism from the opposition when he said he had no idea how the woman had been allowed to board the ferry.
Pilli attempted to assure everyone that the woman would be kept isolated in the hospital in Nicosia.
Tatar for his part said he was saddened to hear of the news and would launch an inquiry into how the woman was allowed to board the ship.
The woman and her child’s PCR tests later came back negative.
Public Works and Communication Minister tried to defend the government, explaining that passengers arriving from Turkey until July 1 were not required to present a negative PCR certificate upon arrival as the quarantine requirement was still in place.
Later in the afternoon, Pilli apologised for misleading the people with his statements earlier in the day.
Nonetheless, leader of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) Tufan Erhürman pointed out the possible risks in opening the points of entry to passengers from Turkey.
“If the passenger with high fever had not been identified by the medical workers at the port, the individual would have been taken to the quarantine facility, however the customs and immigration officials at the port would have been infected and spread the virus in the north,” Erhürman stressed.
The main opposition leader also criticized how the government continuously kept changing or reversing decisions. He also questioned how the government is planning to keep the tourism sector afloat.
“Every decision adopted so far has been changed. Today’s (Monday) case is a sign showing that the adopted decisions are safe enough. All these are indications for what to expect in the north following 1 July,” Erhürman concluded.
Leader of the Social Democratic Party (TDP) Cemal Özyiğit urged the government to revoke its decision to allow passengers to enter the north from 1 July onwards.
Addressing the plenary on Monday, Özyiğit questioned whether or not the health ministry had enough PCR testing kits at hand.
“Where will those passengers be tested? Where will they be kept until the test results are out?” Özyiğit asked. He accused the government of not doing anything to improve the health infrastructure in the north.
“The north is not ready for a possible second wave. There is no pandemic hospital; there are not enough doctors or nurses either,” Özyiğit concluded.
Democratic Party (DP) Nicosia MP Serdar Denktaş echoed the general concerns regarding the government’s decision to allow passengers from 1 July onwards at a time when the number of cases peaked in Turkey.
“It is necessary and unavoidable to start the opening process at one point,” Prime Minister Ersin Tatar said on Monday.
Speaking during the plenary, Tatar added he has full confidence in the health workers.
“We will achieve success with the good work done both by those managing the coronavirus process and the medical workers,” Tatar noted.
Recalling that the number of passengers will be dictated by the north’s testing capacity, Tatar added there will be two flights arriving per day bringing 320 people daily.
“There are currently 5,000 test kits available but the capacity will be increased,” Tatar said. He added that it has turned into an ordeal to find kits in the world to purchase.
Tatar concluded by stressing that the government is adopting decisions in the best interests of the public.