Masks and testing for schools in draft roadmap for management of the pandemic

On August 30, the final roadmap for the management of the pandemic will be presented, the Minister of Health, Michael Hadjipandela has said, adding that scientists are in favour of the use of masks and that the return of students and teachers to schools with a 48-hour rapid test is being considered. The statements of the Minister of Health were made after the end of his meeting with the members of the Advisory Scientific Committee, on Friday at the Ministry of Health.

The Minister said that at the meeting the draft roadmap was discussed and within the next week, everyone will give some suggestions to the Ministry of Health so that the final roadmap can be presented on August 30, before the next session of the Council of Ministers.

Asked whether vaccination is included in the road map, he said that he was informed by the European Commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, that within 2-3 weeks news are expected regarding vaccines, which will protect against the new mutations and the procedures that will be followed.

Furthermore, he said that it was suggested that students and teachers will be required to present a negative 48-hour rapid test to return to school. Depending on the results of that rapid test, decisions will be made on what needs to be done in the future. He added that this proposal will be reexamined next week, because in the last 15 days the number of COVID-19 cases has been on a downward trend and expressed hope that this will remain the case for the next 10 days.

Also, the Minister said that the proposal also concerns teachers, “but we are trying – before taking this proposal to the Council of Ministers – to find the ways to implement this decision”.

Regarding the mandatory use of a mask, Hadjipandela explained that “scientists maintain a strong opinion that the mask protects and at the present time we cannot remove it”. He clarified that the use of a mask is mandatory for adults and children over 12 years old, and this includes schools.

Dr Zoi-Dorothea Pana, on behalf of the Scientific Advisory Committee, congratulated the Ministry of Health for the work that has been done as regards the roadmap, which, as she said, “is a framework, it is the pillars, it is the tools, that will highlight existing work and strengthen future work, using what we have at hand in every phase of the pandemic.”

Asked about the noticeable reduction in cases and the stable course of hospitalisations, Pana noted that the biggest lesson after more than two years of the pandemic, is “to be careful and not be driven by either panic or complacency, and this also concerns our indicators in hospitals”. She also said that the good picture creates an optimism for the autumn as well, pointing out that we should focus on preparedness, individual responsibility and the knowledge and experience we have gained in order to achieve balance in autumn and winter.

Source: Cyprus News Agency