Cyprus to begin random virus testing at its airports

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Random coronavirus tests will be carried out on a proportion of travellers arriving at Cyprus’ airports as an added layer of protection against the virus’ spread, government officials said Friday.

The measure was announced a day before the expiration of a requirement that foreign nationals permitted to travel to Cyprus from 22 countries obtain a health certificate declaring them coronavirus-free.

The 22 countries include Austria, Greece, Finland, Australia, Germany, Norway, Bulgaria and Hungary.

After weeks of strict closure, Cyprus is allowing residents back on the beach — tourists could be next. Photo: Shutterstock

Cyprus’ deputy government spokesman Panayiotis Sentonas said the measure was taken on the recommendation of an advisory body of medical experts “so as not to risk the positive epidemiological picture” the country has built over the last few months.

Cyprus has managed a low coronavirus infection rate thanks to a nearly three-month lockdown imposed in mid-March that included a commercial flight ban and a stay-at-home order.

A visitor wearing a mask to protect against the coronavirus looks at ancient artifacts placed inside a glass-protected display area at Cyprus Archaeological Museum in the capital Nicosia, on Thursday, June 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

The country is keen to restart is vital tourism sector that directly accounts for 13% of its economy, but wants to avoid imported virus flare-ups that could tarnish its image.

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said health officials at the airports are aiming to randomly test 10-15% of 1,500 passengers who are estimated to arrive daily over the next few weeks.

Ioannou said random virus tests will also be conducted on passengers arriving from 12 countries including France, Italy, Spain and Israel, who will still need a health certificate declaring them virus-free.

Sourced By: Associated Press

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