CMES-COMPUTER MODELING IN ENGINEERING & SCIENCES, vol.128, no.2, pp.717-729, 2021 (SCI-Expanded)
Northern Cyprus has implemented relatively strict measures in the battle against the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The measures were introduced at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to prevent the spread of the disease. One of these measures was the use of two separate real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) tests for SARS-CoV-2 referred to as the double screening procedure, which was adopted following the re-opening of the sea, air and land borders for passengers after the first lockdown. The rRT-PCR double screening procedure involved reporting a negative rRT-PCR test which was carried in 72 to 120 h before departure whilst presenting no known symptoms of the COVID-19 and performing a second rRT-PCR test at the point of arrival. This study compares the results of SARS-CoV-2 rRT-PCR tests performed on incoming flight passengers from the 1st July to 9th of September 2020 to Northern Cyprus. The rRT-PCR test results collected by the Near East University (NEU) DESAM COVID-19 laboratory were compared with the rRT-PCR test results collected by the Ministry of Health and/or private COVID-19 laboratories in Northern Cyprus. This comparative study was conducted using binomial distribution. In addition, by applying the Susceptible-Exposed-Infected-Removed (SEIR) model to Northern Cyprus, overall basic reproduction number (R-0) value of the COVID-19 was analysed for the same time period to act as a threshold for this comparison. In both the statistical and SEIR mathematical model, R-0 was calculated. It was assumed that, the more similar the R-0 results of NEU DESAM COVID-19 laboratory and other laboratories were with the overall R-0 value of Northern Cyprus, the more reliable the results would be. We calculated that the median R-0 values of the NEU DESAM COVID-19 laboratory and other laboratories performing the SARS-CoV-2 rRT-PCR on air passengers during the studied period to be 0.96 and 1.29, respectively, compared to Northern Cyprus median R-0 value which was 0.99. The rRT-PCR screening results from the NEU DESAM COVID-19 laboratory were closely aligned with the screening results of Northern Cyprus whereas the screening results reported by other laboratories were not in a fit with the regional pattern. This study also aimed to point out the importance of the rRT-PCR screening procedure since asymptomatic positive SARS-CoV-2 cases entery to Northern Cyprus was inhibited and this prevented the spread of the disease within the population.