“We have come so far, we cannot give up”

Valentinos Coordinates contact tracing at the Ministry of Health in Cyprus Cyprus, Nicosia

Valentinos Silvestros is a field epidemiologist. He is also the coordinator of contact tracing at the Ministry of Health's Unit for Surveillance and Control of Communicable Diseases. His team identifies the chains of transmission and “breaks” them, by isolating people already infected as well as those who have been in contact with the virus. The team works under very challenging circumstances and with great personal sacrifice. Valentinos hasn’t seen his family and friends for over eight weeks. Sometimes, he feels very tired and his back and neck often ache from working all day. He’s still relieved to see the number of cases dropping. "I am so glad that our small country is doing so well" he says. Everyone has been working together, which fills him with optimism for the future. "Now is still not the time to rest," he warns. "We cannot give up. We have to protect our people and strengthen our public health systems".

“We will come out of this crisis stronger”

Nektaria and Paris Work at the National Crisis Management Centre in Nicosia Cyprus, Nicosia

Nektaria Kakoutsi and Major Paris Samoutis have been working day and night at the National Crisis Management Centre of the Foreign Ministry of Cyprus, responding to demands received from Cypriots around the world. People stranded abroad needed accommodation, financial assistance, medication and psychological support. To help them, Nektaria and Paris coordinated repatriation flights and provided all kinds of assistance. People with serious health problems and parents stuck abroad away from their children are amongst the most pressing cases they had to address. “This has been a challenging task made even more difficult by travel restrictions imposed by most countries. However, the satisfaction we see in the eyes of the people returning home is worth it all. We will make it and will come out stronger,” they say. Tens of thousands of Europeans stranded around the world by the outbreak have been returned home thanks to the EU.

“Every single life counts”

Constantinos Fights the pandemic on several fronts: from the ER to nationwide coordination Cyprus, Nicosia

Constantinos Constantinou, an infectious diseases specialist with the State Health Services Organisation, has been battling the coronavirus pandemic from the very beginning in several ways. Aware of the lack of credible information on this new health threat, Constantinos worked at the Cypriot Ministry of Health, where he coordinated the dissemination and continuous update of guidelines on COVID-19 from the World Health Organization, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and other international authorities. Now, Constantinos starts his day treating patients at the COVID unit at Nicosia's General Hospital and ends late at night after long phone calls and emails with colleagues on how to treat their patients, as well with ordinary people on how to protect themselves and their loved ones.

“By helping a single person, we can help everyone”

Halin Volunteers to support COVID-19 testing Cyprus, Nicosia

Laboratory diagnostics are key in the fight against COVID-19 as their tests obtain information that will aid in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of this virus. Scientists like Halin are working towards these solutions. Halin is a Turkish Cypriot and works as a volunteer helping in diagnostic PCR testing. With so many experts working on finding a solution, the EU has committed to boosting their investigations with 47.5 million euros for 17 new COVID-19 related projects. 

“It is important for children to keep smiling”

Vicky and Photis Help to bring more colour to children’s lives despite social distancing Cyprus, Nicosia

The restrictions put in place to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus have radically changed our daily routines, as we are required to stay home as much as possible. While this could have a difficult impact on anyone, it is particularly affecting children - talking to friends and connecting with family is very important for their growth and wellbeing. In these exceptional circumstances, Vicky and Photis had the idea that they could make young people’s lives at home happier. Together with a group of volunteers, they began streaming fairy tales through The Fairytale Museum Facebook page. There, well-known actors, presenters, and politicians read their favourite children's fairy tales live online, sharing smiles and reinforcing the lockdown messages. At the same time, dozens of volunteers are reading stories by phone, to bring joy to children that have to stay at home.

“Even in a time of crisis, every child has a basic right to education”

Joseph Supports the right to education during the COVID-19 crisis Cyprus, Nicosia

The COVID-19 outbreak makes it impossible for people to meet in person. School students and staff are no exception. Since schools are now closed, students have been following classes and interacting with teachers through online lessons on their personal computers and similar devices.

“Hope For Children”, together with Cyprus's Ministry of Education, works to make sure that everyone in Cyprus has proper access to e-learning. They donate new electronic equipment to secondary education students in need across the country. By bridging gaps caused by social and economic differences, their goal is to ensure that every student has proper access to education even during these difficult times.

“I fight for companionship for people in need”

Marios Reunites loved ones and provides assistance to the elderly Cyprus, Larnaca

Although retired, Marios was a doctor and is still doing his part to help his community during the crisis. Social distancing is not easy for anyone, but it is especially difficult for the ill and infirm. Mario therefore negotiates with hospital staff to allow companions to visit their loved ones in the hospital so that they do not have to die alone. He also takes care of elderly residents with pre-existing conditions, providing medical, psychological, and social support for quarantined older people, in order to prevent deaths from other causes.