Over in Cyprus there are mounting concerns over the number of asylum seekers testing positive for coronavirus at checkpoints dividing the war-torn island.
The Greek Cypriot health minister, Constantinos Ioannou, says authorities in the island’s internationally recognised south have registered a growing number of infections among migrants crossing over from the breakaway Turkish-run north.
Crossing points between the two sectors reopened in late June after three months of closure due to coronavirus restrictions. Health officials point to at least eight Syrian migrants testing positive for the highly contagious virus in the last week.
“The virus is still here. We have not got rid of it as many think,” said Ioannou emphasising that Covid-19 tests were currently being conducted at crossing points along the 120 –mile UN-patrolled ceasefire line separating the ethnically-split state.
The route from north to south is a well-trodden one among migrants and refugees seeking asylum in the Greek-administered EU member south. Most are believed to cross over to the Mediterranean island from Turkey – where infection rates until recently had surpassed a 1,000 a day.
Migrants seeking to evade detection attempt to traverse the porous dividing line by circumventing check points and taking other more out of the way routes. But once they appear before Greek Cypriot authorities they are tested for the virus before being placed in reception centres.
Cyprus has so far managed to keep the virus in check recording less than 1,000 confirmed cases and 19 deaths. The breakaway north has registered 121 cases and four deaths with the territory’s own health minister announcing three new cases on Sunday.
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