Cyprus' largest hospital suspends admissions after heart surgeon diagnosed with coronavirus

ATHENS (Reuters) – Cyprus’ largest medical facility suspended admissions on Tuesday after a heart surgeon tested positive for coronavirus.

The 64-year-old surgeon, who headed up the cardiology ward at Nicosia General hospital, was one of the first two coronavirus cases diagnosed in Cyprus on Monday. He had recently returned from Britain.

By early Tuesday authorities were tracing about 150 people he had come into contact with, including patients and other medical personnel.

The hospital halted all admissions, outpatient clinics, surgeries and visits for 48 hours and said it would gradually discharge or move patients from the heart surgery ward, where the doctor worked.

“What happened to us was probably the worst scenario,” Constantinos Ioannou, health minister of the divided island’s internationally-recognized government, told Sigma TV.

Cyprus was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek Cypriot coup. The Turkish Cypriot north recorded its first case on Tuesday, a German tourist.

She had been taken to a hospital in Nicosia for treatment while the group she traveled with from Germany was quarantined at their hotel, Turkey’s state owned Anadolu said, citing a local news agency.

Northern Cypriot health minister Ali Pilli said the hotel was in Famagusta on the eastern coast and that the 30-member group had arrived from Balingen in Germany on Sunday evening.

On Feb. 29, authorities in the internationally-recognized south shut four checkpoints connecting the two sides of the island in what it said was a precaution to combat any potential spread.

The move, the first time the checkpoints had been closed since they were set up in 2003 to allow movement between the two sides, triggered dismay among peace activists and people who use them on a daily basis.

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