A 61-year-old man has died in hospital after contracting coronavirus, the Turkish Cypriot Health Ministry announced on Tuesday morning.
He had been in intensive care since 6 April, and also had underlying health conditions including high blood pressure and diabetes.
The death brings the total number of coronavirus-linked fatalities in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) to 28, the vast majority coming in 2021.
The Turkish Cypriot authorities had received extensive praise for keeping the deadly virus at bay last year, after implementing comprehensive lockdown measures within days of the TRNC’s first recorded cases of Covid-19 in March.
Six people died of the virus in the TRNC throughout the whole of 2020. That number has rocketed this year, after the arrival of the more contagious UK variant. In February, tests found that up to 80% of Covid-19 cases in the TRNC were of the more aggressive UK mutation.
The government faces a tough challenge maintaining public health, while re-opening the country to the outside world at a time when a significant number of positive Covid cases continue to be diagnosed each day.
With barely any financial help available for businesses and workers in the private sector adversely affected by the pandemic, business leaders have been lobbying the government for several months to ease the lockdown measures to alleviate the severe financial hardships being experienced across the country.
The TRNC’s two biggest sectors, tourism and higher education, have been among the worst hit. The country received 1.5 million tourists in 2019, which plummeted the following year due to pandemic restrictions on flights and entry into North Cyprus. Similarly, there have been huge challenges for TRNC universities and the local economy, which rely on the fees and living expenses of around 100,000 foreign students.
Main image, top, of healthcare workers intubating a COVID patient. Photo ©Tempura / iStock