Local residents in rural Nicosia are reacting to government plans aimed at establishing a quarantine facility in their area to treat potential confirmed coronavirus cases in Cyprus.
According to Cyprus Times, a community representative of Kannavia village, located on the northern slopes of the Troodos mountain range, said he was displeased with an announcement that an area near his village had been selected by the health ministry to house potential confirmed coronavirus cases in the future.
The local leader, Xenakis Xenofondos, said he and fellow residents heard about the government plans through public media over the weekend, adding they had not received any information from state authorities.
“We are not an unwelcoming people but there should have been a discussion. We do not accept this,” Xenofondos said.
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou recently told a press conference that the government had chosen a designated area in rural Nicosia where cases could be handled if coronavirus lab tests were found to be positive with the Wuhan bug.
Ioannou, who had rejected criticism over the handling of the coronavirus outbreak at airports, said state authorities in the Republic of Cyprus had implemented updated public health protocols from the very beginning ahead of the threat of a potential coronavirus infection on the island.
The minister added that a potential confirmed case, described by officials as “unlikely,” would mean that others considered “high risk” due to close proximity with the carrier would also need to be quarantined for 14 days.
Upon hearing that the quarantine facility would be set up on the grounds of a campground between Kannavia and Agia Eirini, Xenofondos said he took the issue up directly with the health ministry.
“The chosen area connects two communities together separated only by a very short distance. A lot of people walk by over there and we are worried,” Xenofondos said.
The Kannavia resident also listed a number of fears purportedly shared by members of the nearby communities, saying people were worried that rodents in the area could be infected with the virus and then spread it throughout the area.
“The 150 children who use the campground facilities will not set foot here ever again,” Xenofondos argued.
An official statement from the health ministry said the plan was put in motion in accordance with guidelines set by the World Health Organization as well as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
“This practice is applied in other countries and under no circumstances does it pose a risk to the health of local residents,” the statement said.
Xenofondos said he had a phone conversation with the health minister on Tuesday, saying the residents would make up their minds and act accordingly, including taking drastic measures.
It was understood that Kannavia was one of three choices. The designated area is near holiday homes while the facility will be based inside a children's summer camp that typically starts operation in late June.
In case residents refuse to accept the government's plan, the state could potentially have the right to enforce the decision via an emergency order.