Cyprus opened its airports to travel from 18 “low risk” countries on Saturday, with experts wary about a possible recurrence of coronavirus infections.
Transport, Communications and Works Minister Yiannis Karousos wrote on Twitter that the eastern Mediterranean island has expanded its connectivity with more countries.
“We are continuing our efforts with our main concern, public health,” Karousos added.
Hermes Airports Senior Communications Manager Maria Kouroupi told the official Cyprus News Agency that flights got under way to a slow start, with only nine arrivals and nine departures on the first day from Athens, Salonica, Munich, Frankfurt, Cologne and Zurich.
Though travelers from 18 countries categorized as being of low risk were not required to present a certificate of negative COVID-19 test, the number of passengers on each plane was small.
Four more countries will be added to the low-risk list of countries on Monday, with another nine being added to the list of “relatively low risk” countries, from where travelers will be required to present a negative coronavirus test before boarding a plane.
In both cases, authorities will sample about 300 passengers each day so as to have an accurate picture of the epidemiological situation in the countries of origin.
Karousos said that he expected air travel to pick up, with about 500 flights per week as of mid July, when tourists are expected to arrive in large numbers.
Air travel resumed on June 9 in Cyprus, with only 7,000 passengers arriving by June 15 aboard 85 flights.
The lifting of travel restrictions raised concern among scientists advising the Health Ministry on the pandemic.
Maria Koliou, an infectious diseases expert at the University Of Cyprus Medical School, said she was worried that some people carrying the virus will slip through the net of security measures and cause new infections among the local population.
“Infections are currently down to zero, but this does not mean the virus has been eradicated. It is still out there, albeit at a very low frequency,” Koliou warned.