The mayor of Aradippou urged residents to take the test but revealed many were afraid due to the fear of social stigma attached to Covid-19 after one family was bullied into locking themselves up in their home when a relative was diagnosed as a confirmed case.
The measure was announced after Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou informed the mayors of Paphos and Aradippou that the government would subsidise Covid-19 tests for the two areas’ residents, following the latest data showing the increased number of cases in the city and district of Paphos and in Aradippou.
Officials of the health ministry’s epidemiology monitoring unit would contact the two mayors to set a schedule for targeted sampling among the population of their areas.
Samples will be taken in cooperation with crews from the two municipalities, the health ministry said. No information was given on how many cases there are in these two areas.
According to member of the health ministry’s advisory committee for coronavirus, Dr Petros Karayiannis, an intervention in those two areas was very important to restrict the spread of the virus.
Karayiannis told the Cyprus News Agency that it was difficult to assess the overall results of the pandemic because no one knows yet how much the virus has spread in those two areas.
Aradippou mayor Evangelos Evangelides said that the tests would start on Friday.
The mayor said that there had been over 15 cases in Aradippou long before the restrictions on movement were introduced by the health ministry.
He added that the coronavirus cases in Aradippou emerged a long time ago and had been allowed to spiral out of control since there had not been any tests by the competent authorities.
Evangelides, however also pointed out another problem when it came to testing; that of fear of social stigma.
“The first three cases of coronavirus found in Aradippou were bullied so much that entire families locked themselves up in their homes,” he said.
He added that most are ashamed to take the test. When the municipality announced it would subsidise tests in cooperation with a private lab, to persons who believe they have the symptoms, very few expressed interest, he said.
“Most of the phone calls we received from people interested in taking the test were with hidden caller IDs.”
The mayor said he would lead by example and would be the first to take the test on Friday since, due to his position he has been encountering many people. Municipal staff would then be tested, he said. He urged all Aradippou residents do the same.
Meanwhile in Paphos, testing of 1,000 individuals to act as a sort of ‘focus group’ would get underway imminently, according to an announcement from Paphos municipality.
“At the initiative of the municipality of Paphos and the ministry of health, following processes and consultations carried out yesterday and today, it was decided to allocate the required amount for 1,000 tests to detect possible cases of coronavirus in Paphos,” the municipality announced on Thursday.
The screening performed on these 1,000 individuals will be two fold, they noted: a) RNA testing to detect active cases and b) antibody screening to identify people who have been ill and are now negative with antibodies.
The details of the sample selection among the citizens, as well as the procedure to be followed, will be announced today or tomorrow by the ministry of health’s scientific team, which will utilize all data that will be the subject of an epidemiological study in order to draw valuable and necessary conclusions.
“All of this data will be used to proceed with a special study,” a spokesman confirmed to the Cyprus Mail, adding: “It is not necessary or possible to test the entire population of the district. More of whom will be tested will be announced soon.”
For the implementation of this initiative, the municipality of Paphos, the municipality of Peyia, the communities of Chlorakas and Emba, as well as EVE and the area branch of the Cyprus Hotel Association (Pasyxe) district committee will each contribute €10,000, while the ministry of health will contribute €50,000.