Turkish Cypriot Health Minister Dr Ali Pilli has confirmed the more contagious UK variant of coronavirus has arrived in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC).
“The UK variant of the COVID-19 virus was identified in 16 of the 20 samples sent by the Health Ministry to the Republic of Turkey for COVID-19 virus mutation analysis,” the Dr Pilli said in a statement released on Monday, 8 February.
Tests were initially carried out at the DESAM Research Institute’s Covid-19 PCR Diagnostic Laboratory at Near East University (NEU) last week, which found the B117 UK coronavirus variant in nine of the 17 samples tested.
Further tests in Turkey bore out the findings at NEU, with 16 of the 20 samples analysed containing the new, faster-spreading B117 coronavirus variant.
’10 of the 16 coronavirus deaths in North Cyprus have been in 2021′
The mutant virus, first detected in Britain last September, is believed to be 70% more contagious and around 30% more deadly than the original coronavirus, which spread from Wuhan, China, to around the world last year.
Emphasising the fact that the variant is much more infectious, Dr Pilli has urged the public to pay “maximum attention” to rules requiring people to wear masks, keep their social distancing and practice good hygiene by washing hands regularly.
The TRNC has been undergoing its third wave of coronavirus since the New Year. The past six weeks have seen a rapid spread of the deadly disease, with a record number of daily cases coupled with a large spike in fatalities. The worst affected areas have been Girne and the capital Lefkoşa.
Sixteen people have died from coronavirus in North Cyprus since March of last year, with ten of those deaths coming in 2021.
According to the latest figures from the Health Ministry, 2,884 people have been infected with Covid-19 in North Cyprus. 756 people are currently receiving treatment and 12 people are in intensive care.
A record 80 new cases were recorded on 4 February, with no fewer than 46 daily cases throughout February, often significantly higher.
The TRNC is currently in total lockdown to curb the recent surge, with all non-essential businesses closed and people required to stay at home unless there is an emergency or they require essential supplies.
North Cyprus’ strict measures also include people requiring negative PCR tests before they can travel between districts.