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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 09-08-04

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control Acting Director - ECDC Chief Scientist Johan Giesecke has said that Cyprus has a very good plan to address the new flu (H1N1) pandemic, noting that the way this plan is implemented seems to be thoughtful and worked through.

    In statements during a press conference after a meeting he had with Cyprus Health Minister Christos Patsalides, Giesecke said there is no question that there is a pandemic of a relatively mild disease which is spreading around the globe. He refrained from giving any figures for Europe, noting that most member states are not reporting any number of cases any longer.

    So the figures that are given for the EU are wrong, there are much more cases than the figures are showing and its not that interests any longer, he added, noting that Spain and the UK are clearly the worst hit EU countries. But it will spread to the other countries, he said.

    Asked when the new vaccine for the flu will be ready and how effective it will be, Giesecke said what the producers are telling us is that end of September is when the vaccine will be ready. How safe it is, is being evaluated now by the companies, he added.

    He said that the ECDC is involved in two huge Pan-European projects, one on the efficiency and one on the side effects from the vaccine.

    Asked how sensible is to proceed with the vaccination given the concerns that the virus might mutate, he said it is true that the virus could mutate, but we have not seen any signs yet. Even if it does mutate, the vaccine would probably maintain some of its protectiveness, he added.

    Asked whether in his opinion schools should remain closed in September or not, Gisecke said the picture from the US is that teenagers will meet anyway even if they do not go to school. It is easy to say close schools but when you start thinking about it, things get complicated, he added.

    On his part, Patsalides said that they exchanged views on the issue of the new flu and thanked the ECDC official for the guidelines and the coordination offered by the Centre that contributed to efforts made with a view to address cases of the new virus.

    Senior Medical Officer Olga Kalakouta said that new cases are still recorded in the same pace as in the last days, adding that there has been no fatal incident so far in Cyprus.

    Giesecke also had meetings this morning with the Committee that handles issues concerning H1N1 flu and the Minister of Finance, during which he was briefed about the Health Ministrys action plan to address the new flu.


    Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou and Turkish Cypriot leaders advisor Ozdil Nami together with the UN Secretary-General`s Special Representative in Cyprus Tayee-Brook Zerihoun will visit the area of Tilliria, on the northwest of Cyprus, where Limnitis crossing point will open.

    According to CNA information, the date of the visit will be decided during the next meeting of Iakovou Nami in the framework of the leaders meeting on Thursday, August 6. The purpose of the visit is to examine the preparations needed to be done to enable the opening of the crossing point. During the visit, ambulances will try to cross through the Limnitis Kato Pyrgos road, although the arrangements for ambulances passing will proceed irrespective of Iacovou Nami Zerihoun visit in the area.


    Cyprus Attorney-General Petros Clerides told CNA on Tuesday that he is planning to meet in September with Greece`s Supreme Court (Arios Pagos) Prosecutor Ioannis Tentes to discuss possible judicial problems that will emerge from double judicial proceedings against Helios Airways officials over a 2005 plane crash in Greece that killed all 121 people on board in Cyprus` worst-ever air disaster.

    Five people of Helios, namely Executive Chairman Andreas Drakos as a legal person, Helios Managing Director Demetris Pantazis, Director of Flight Operations George Kikkides and Helios chief pilot Ianco Stoimenov have been referred to a direct trial before the Cyprus Assize Court on September 17. They face charges included among the most serious provided for under the Cypriot criminal code. However, three of the accused, Pantazis, Kikkides and Stoimenov will also be brought before the Greek Court of First Instance with charges of manslaughter by recklessness.


    Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Antonis Paschalides said that his ministry does not want the promotion of Cyprus Turkish occupied areas as a tourist destination through funds the ministry itself allocates for tourism development.

    Paschalides was invited to comment on information that Italian tourists are participating in organized tours to the occupied areas, after arriving at Larnaca airport, at the government-controlled areas of the island.

    Speaking after a meeting with Emirates New General Manager Khalide Al Zarouni, Paschalides said that the whole issue is still being examined to find out if these tours are indeed taking place and added that tour operators with whom it cooperates have assured the ministry that they do not organize such tours.

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