North Cyprus Seems to Have Won the Covid-19 Battle
With the first case reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019, the Covid-19 outbreak took the world by surprise when it quickly spread like wildfire, and the World Health Organisation officially declared it a pandemic on March 11, by which date over 4.16 million cases were reported across 187 countries, with over 285,000 deaths, and the small holiday destination TRNC, with its population of under 375,000, was one of the countries affected by the pandemic.
On March 10, the Health Minister Ali Pilli announced the first case of Covid-19 which was a German tourist, part of a 30 member group, staying at the Salamis Bay Conti Hotel. Then, on the 12th of March, it was reported that the spouse of the infected tourist was also diagnosed with the virus. By the 13th of March, there were a total of 5 Covid-19 cases, and 840 German tourists were put under quarantine and eventually allowed to return to Germany on March 24. Then, on March 28, the first casualty from the virus was announced, with a further 3 casualties following suit at later dates, the last of which was on April 13.
Northern Cyprus acted fast and took serious precautions to contain the spread of the virus. On March 11, it closed all borders and airports, only allowing in TRNC citizens who had to undergo a state-administered quarantine for 14 days, and emergency flights were also scheduled to send stranded tourists back home. A partial curfew was put in place, with all hotels, restaurants, shops and businesses closed, with the exception of chemists, supermarkets, petrol stations and bakeries. Schools were shut down on April 16. In addition, a full curfew was put in place from 9pm until 6am and movement between districts was banned. Temperature checks started in all supermarkets and masks and gloves became mandatory.
This quick prevention act along with daily testing allowed TRNC to keep the positive cases to just 108, with the final patient released from hospital on May 11. The country has seen no new cases since April 20, meaning no active Covid-19 cases are currently present in the TRNC, which could mean that the TRNC may well be the first country to completely eradicate the Covid-19 pandemic. On May 4, most businesses were allowed to reopen, the daytime curfew ended (with the exception of Sundays) and life started going back to normal. On May 11, restaurants were allowed to start take-out and delivery services, and on May 15, the remaining curfew is said to be lifted.
Following a six week lock-down, the country is now working hard to bring its economy back to normal, with restrictions slowly being lifted. As a highly popular holiday destination with well over 300 days of sunshine, pristine beaches, long sunny days, scrumptious food and affordable TL prices, North Cyprus, visited by hundreds of thousands of holiday makers each year, heavily depends on tourism and is now preparing to welcome holiday makers back for post-pandemic relaxation, with airlines said to be scheduling flights into Ercan Airport from May 28. While anyone arriving will likely be quarantined at the moment, the country is still hopeful to be able to welcome tourists before the end of the long summer.