The Cyprus government announced on Tuesday, March 17, that it will be suspending flights to and from Larnaca (LCA) and Paphos (PFO) International Airport from some countries, with the exception of cargo and humanitarian flights, from 03:00 (local time) on Saturday, March 21, until Saturday, April 4, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The countries affected by the suspension are Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Egypt, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the UK, and Greece.
Authorities have also instructed all hotels and tourist accommodation to cease operations by Saturday, March 21, and to remain closed until Thursday, April 30. All tourists will be required to leave their accommodation in Cyprus by March 21. Meanwhile, an entry ban on all foreign travelers, except for Cyprus nationals and individuals with a residence permit, remains in place since Sunday, March 15. Individuals who are authorized to enter Cyprus will need to submit a medical certificate from a doctor in the country of origin to prove that they do not have COVID-19 and will be placed under mandatory 14-day quarantine at accommodation facilities provided by the government. Additionally, the government has suspended all private businesses, including retail stores, night clubs, hotels, and malls as a precautionary measure.
The Health Ministry has confirmed 67 cases of the virus in Cyprus as of Thursday, March 19. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.