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Statement by VOIS Cyprus on the recent outbreak of COVID-19 cases among international students in Nicosia [13/03/2021]

For a couple of days now, in the city of Nicosia and its surroundings, there has been an outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the international student community following the 27 positive cases initially detected in one of the dormitories at the Cyprus International University. In the days that have followed, more contact cases have been discovered.

VOIS Cyprus understands that the situation is dire, and as such we are extremely concerned about the general well-being of these students and call for calmness and collaboration on the part of students, and urgency and efficiency on the part of the TRNC government. It has come to our attention that for a number of reasons, some international students are not following the safety rules which have been instituted. We would like to strongly remind our fellow members of the student community to pay attention to and follow these measures of protection; wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing, avoiding large crowds, as well as all of the other measures announced by the government and published on our social media pages. While we understand the unique position and difficulties facing the student community, and the need to work to feed and take care of ourselves, the need for social connection with our friends, and the mental and physical exhaustion of staying at home, especially as young people, we need to be conscious that we live in an extraordinary time plagued by a deadly global pandemic, as such, we must be conscious that breaking the rules, endangers not our own health, but public health as a whole. We are far from having defeated COVID-19 in the TRNC, so, it is important that we take extreme caution in our affairs. Follow the rules for your safety and for the safety of your friends and the local community as well. If you feel unwell and show symptoms of COVID-19, please self-isolate and inform the competent authorities via 1102.

It has come to our attention, that some students may be showing symptoms of COVID-19 and yet go about their daily lives. This is an extremely concerning and reckless behavior. As an organization, we must state in no uncertain terms that if what we hear is true, then we do not condone such behavior. If you are showing symptoms, have tested positive, or have been on recent contact with someone who has tested positive, report this as soon as possible as well as a list of every person you have been in contact with. Please, self-isolate, do not go to work, do not see your friends, do not leave your house for any reason whatsoever, and inform those you have been in contact with to do the same. We understand, times are hard and we all need to work, we are students ourselves and understand your other fears as well, but please bear in mind that we have to think of the collective good in times like this. Failure to observe the rules and protect ourselves and others, has the potential of leading to a new and uncontrollable outbreak. Do remember, that some students have medical complications, and our reckless actions will endanger their lives.

Once more, we want to call on the government, in particular the Ministry of Health to take into consideration the requests we have sent them through the medium of the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education calling for measures to be taken to prioritize the public health of the international student community. As it stands today, we believe that public health is the number one priority, and all other considerations such as the legal status of students are secondary. In so far as the fear of deportation and criminalization continues to exist, many students will fear reporting possible cases of COVID-19. It is on this basis that we call on those responsible to do their best to make PCR tests available to everyone, including those students whose legal status may be questionable. This process of testing we believe should guarantee the privacy, security and non-criminalization of these students. We also call for transparency and the safeguarding of the human rights of these students. The government ought to promise that for those students who may have an irregular status, quarantining will not precede deportation. Without such guarantees, the fear of the consequences of going to tests will continue to exist within our community, and as a result, the potential that persons showing symptoms may not go for tests, and those who have tested positive may not fully disclose the list of persons they have been in contact with, for fear of endangering the safety of their friends and colleagues.

Now is a time more than ever where our collective humanity and resolve is being tested as a society. The only chance we have of successfully navigating the dangers posed by COVID-19 is through solidarity. COVID-19 does not discriminate, and neither should we. Health first!

Posted by VOIS OFFICIAL on 2021-03-13

Stay safe by staying home #COVID19 #EvdeKal #StayHome