The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) is to go into full lockdown from Monday to combat the surge in coronavirus cases and fatalities.
The total number of Covid-19 deaths in the TRNC leapt from six on 31 December 2020 to eleven on 12 January 2021, while the total number of cases rose from 1,574 to 1,810 in the same period. The figures are the total numbers since the pandemic hit North Cyprus in March 2020.
The TRNC has experienced very few Covid deaths thanks to the strict measures it has taken to contain the deadly virus.
Four deaths were recorded between March and April 2020. There were then no further fatalities for six months, when a fifth person died of the virus on 17 October. Coronavirus claimed its sixth victim on 8 December 2020. According to local media reports, all of North Cyprus’ Covid-19 victims had underlying health issues.
The recent spike in coronavirus has concerned both the public and TRNC health officials.
The TRNC’s Contagious Diseases Executive Committee advised that a circuit breaker was needed after modest public health measures currently in place had failed to generate the required drop in the number of Covid-19 infections, which have remained in double digits for weeks.
The Committee’s advice was supported by the Health Minister Dr Ali Pilli, but his colleagues in government initially resisted due to concerns on the impact on the economy.
However, a large outbreak in Lapta, including six positive cases among staff at Kardeşler Bakery, that contributed to a total of 31 new cases on Friday – 28 of them local – strengthened the demand for a full lockdown.
On Saturday evening, Dr Pilli got his way after an emergency session of the Council of Ministers. Following the meeting, the Health Ministry announced the full raft of lockdown measures that will take effect from Monday, and remain in place until the end of the month.
TRNC Health Ministry announces new lockdown measures on its Facebook page on Saturday evening
From 00.01 on Monday 18 January, people must remain at home unless they are a frontline worker. This covers personnel in the emergency services (fire, police and health) and the utilities sector such as the electricity board, local council staff and public officials in key ministries.
Other personnel who are exempt from lockdown rules are operating in businesses in the private sector that are providing vital services, such as bakeries, pharmacies, petrol stations, supermarkets, private security firms, and delivery and distribution firms.
All other non-essential places of work and worship must close, along with leisure and entertainment facilities, such gyms, bars, clubs, betting offices, casinos, cafes, restaurants, patisseries, beauty parlours, hairdressers, libraries, and cinemas.
Deputy Prime Minister Erhan Arıklı slammed the new lockdown rules on his Facebook page, claiming it will condemn the low-paid to starve to death at home
Home visits are banned for the next two weeks, as are sports training, and all sporting, cultural and spiritual events have been called off.
Schools will also remain closed until the end of the month, while restrictions and quarantine apply to those crossing the Green Line.
The Deputy Prime Minister Erhan Arıklı took to social media this morning to criticise the latest lockdown measures, claiming it would condemn low-paid workers to “starve to death”.
A new Council of Ministers meeting was called for today. An announcement from that session has yet to be made.
Main picture, top of Health Minister Dr Ali Pilli (right) with Prime Minister Ersan Saner on 15 Jan. 2021. Photo © Facebook / KKTC Başbakanlık