Pensioner deported over test paper blunder
KEREM HASAN / Chief Reporter
Grandfather Michael Cronin is a regular visitor. He told friends he was looking forward to his latest trip and wasn’t concerned about entry requirements as he had an up to date negative test certificate.
The semi-retired company director, originally from Cork, flew into Ercan early on Friday morning having arrived from Dublin via Istanbul on Turkish Airlines.
Although he showed his test paper, health officials at Ercan said the document did not specify the initials ‘Sars-Cov-2’ as required by current regulations. Mr Cronin was held in a small, cell-like room under guard for more than 17 hours, before being marched on to a return flight to Turkey.
He told a friend in an unhappy phone call, that his passport had been taken from him and would not be returned until he arrived at Istanbul. “He sounded very distressed. I know he doesn’t like to be closed in,” they said.
Speaking to Cyprus Today last night, head of Immigration, Emre Hacı, who spoke to immigration officials at the airport after being prompted by this newspaper, said: “The medical document Mr Cronin has provided has not been accepted by health officials – who are in charge of such matters.
“The Health Ministry is very strict concerning the medical certificate of a PCR test result for Covid-19. Mr Cronin was advised to go back to Turkey, undergo a new PCR test, and come back to North Cyprus as required by the rules.”
Cyprus Today tried to reach the Health Minister, Ali Pilli – to determine if an exception could be made for Mr Cronin to undergo a fresh PCR test at Ercan airport, but no one from official the health ministry could be reached.
An anxious son, Aidan, said: “My father loves North Cyprus and visits the country at least five-to-six times a year.
“Apparently, the medical document provided by his doctor was ‘not correct’. . .that it did not have certain initials – or ‘Sars’ alongside Covid-19. I have been running around to ascertain a new medical certificate with the specified writing, showing the negative test result with the initials they have asked for from the laboratory in Ireland, but I am told it may not be accepted because he did not have that on his possession at the time of entry at the airport.
This is a heart breaking situation to put a 71-year old man through. He has spent the entire day (yesterday) detained at the airport. Why can’t they just make him have a PCR test at the airport? Does this make sense?”
Aidan also said Turkish Airlines representatives both in Dublin and in Istanbul had seen the medical document and had approved it and allowed him to board his flight.