UN peacekeepers, diplomats and tourists crossing the ceasefire line from the Turkish-controlled north will be disinfected to prevent foot and mouth disease from reaching the Greek Cypriot south after an outbreak in Turkey, authorities said Monday, March 5.
The measures affect the 1,250-strong UN contingent, scores of diplomats and hundreds of tourists who travel across the divide.
Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous announced a series of stringent health and safety measures following an emergency meeting at his office on Monday. "At all points of entry and access along the ceasefire line — there are around 10 — vehicles and people will be disinfected," Themistocleous told reporters after the meeting.
He added: "The measure applies to all people who travel across such as UN peacekeepers, diplomats and the enclaved (around 500 Greek Cypriots still living in the north)."
The authorities are concerned that contaminated animals may have reached the north from Turkey, it's only trading partner as the Turkish Cypriot regime is only recognized by Ankara.
"We are very concerned about an outbreak in the occupied areas but so far there are no reported cases and imports from Turkey are banned there," said Themistocleous.
Police will be put on full alert along the 180-kilometer (110-mile) dividing line to stop animal smuggling or people from illegally crossing over. Livestock breeders have also been told to restrict movements of their animals and farm inspections will be increased, said the minister.
The additional measures follow the introduction of a disinfected carpet last week -which British holiday makers must step on as soon as they walk off the plane — at the island's two international airports at Paphos and Larnaca.
UK visitors — over 1.3 million visited the island last year — are also advised to stay away from zoos and farms.
A similar scheme was adopted by the British military in Cyprus last Friday at RAF Akrotiri base on the southern coast. Civilians and pilots landing at the largest RAF base outside Britain must step in a tray of liquid to disinfect their shoes. However, the extremely contagious disease is airborne and clings to clothing.
The last outbreak of foot and mouth on the island was in 1963 when a pig farm near the southern coastal town of Larnaca was infected. — (AFP, Nicosia)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)