NEWS

Cyprus SARS ban on workers

NICOSIA (AFP) – Cypriot authorities said yesterday that foreign workers coming from countries hit by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) will be refused entry to Cyprus in a bid to keep the island free of the killer virus. As of May 21 no foreign workers from SARS-infected areas – as listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) – will be allowed into Cyprus, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. Those foreigners arriving before Tuesday, May 20 will be «permitted entry on the provision all necessary medical checkups are successfully completed,» it said. The decision is part of a concerted effort by Cyprus to prevent the deadly SARS epidemic from reaching the eastern Mediterranean island. There were no further details. [At least 613 people had died of SARS by yesterday.] Cypriot authorities on Monday suspended college registration for incoming Chinese students and those from other SARS-hit countries in a bid to keep the island free of the killer virus. Chinese students already studying here were also «advised not to return home during the summer break unless there is a very good reason for doing so.» Closer checks and controls are also being enforced at the island’s ports on people and goods entering Cyprus from any SARS-infected area, plus special isolation wards are being set up at hospitals to ensure the virus does not take the holiday island by surprise. There have been several scares this week about suspect SARS cases but all have proven to be false alarms. But this island which hosts over 2.5 million tourists annually is particularly sensitive on the issue. Special medical and monitoring equipment has also been ordered to boost the government’s anti-SARS campaign.