Cyprus introduces additional anti-coronavirus measures after spike in new cases

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NICOSIA, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- Cyprus introduced additional anti-coronavirus measures on Saturday after a sudden spike in new COVID-19 cases which paralyzed the island's track and trace system.

Nearly 200 new cases were registered altogether on Thursday and Friday, forcing the track and trace team to announce that it could not trace all contacts of known cases, which ran into several thousands.

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou announced after a meeting of the epidemiological team and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades that stricter measures imposed in the cities of Nicosia and Limassol, the two COVID-19 hotbeds, will be applied islandwide for the next two weeks.

These include a ban on meetings in private houses of more than 10 people and a complete ban of spectators in sports events, restriction of people in restaurants to 75 indoors and 150 outdoors, and a cancellation of wedding and baptizing receptions.

Cinemas and theatres can only host 50 percent of their capacity.

Ioannou also said that in Limassol, where 70 percent of new COVID-19 cases were detected in the past few days, restaurants should close by 10:30 p.m. and advised people not to drive during the night.

"It is strictly recommended that circulation is restricted in all streets of the Limassol district after 11:30 p.m.," Ioannou said, explaining that if people did not heed the advice, authorities may make the measure compulsory.

New COVID-19 cases started rising gradually about two weeks ago.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, countries including France, Italy, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are racing to find a vaccine.

According to the website of the World Health Organization, as of Oct. 15, there were 198 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 42 of them were in clinical trials. Enditem

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