As Cyprus saw coronavirus cases reach double figures this week, molecular virologists are warning the island may face the same fate of Italy and China if more measures are not introduced immediately.
Head of the Molecular Medicine Research Centre, Constantinos Deltas told Philelefteros daily that he expected the number of cases to take off before the authorities can get a grip on the epidemic.
“From epidemiological data, it would appear that we are 2-3 weeks behind what is happening in Italy,” said Deltas.
He said just as in Italy, there may be some patients who have yet to be identified.
“Despite measures introduced a number of locals have been infected, becoming carriers facilitating transmission among the population.”
“We need to intensify measures. Accept that we are going through a critical period and listen to the specialists. Being afraid is what will make us take measures. Fear will save us, but there is no need for panic”.
Deltas said contracting the virus does not spell certain death. “The most likely scenario is that the patient will have mild symptoms.”
He argued there are no magic solutions and the measures taken by the government are an aggressive attempt to stem the spread of the virus.
“They may be over the top, but better than having half measures.”
He said that specialists are hoping that warmer weather coming our way will contribute to getting the outbreak under control.
Professor of Microbiology/Molecular Virology, Peter Karayiannis said that more measures are necessary if we do not want to follow in the footsteps of Italy.
The University of Nicosia academic warned that if cases in Cyprus exceed 100, then things will get out of control.
He called on people to stay calm and to abide by social distancing measures introduced, no matter how draconian.
Karayiannis said a pandemic means that the virus could infect 60% to 70% of a country’s population.
COVID19 is highly contagious
He said that while a person with the flu will pass it on to one more people on average, a coronavirus patient will pass it on to another three.
Karayiannis was concerned about an “orphan” case because the origin was unknown it may have been passed on to multiple people in the general population with the carrier unaware, they may be ill.
“That is why I believe we are on the verge of an outbreak, and if we do not take more measures now, we may find ourselves in the same predicament as Italy.”
He doesn’t want to spread panic but seeks to justify the government’s measures urge people to abide by them.
“If one is to look at how the virus spread, they will see that in Europe and China the virus evolved differently.
In China, we now see the outbreak under control while in Europe we started with a small number of cases, but because they were not contained, it has spread rapidly, with cases doubling on a day-to-day basis”.
Karayiannis warned people to take the virus seriously, ignoring reports presenting the coronavirus as just another flu strain.
“The difference between the flu and the novel coronavirus is that a large percentage of the population is immune to the flu due to vaccination, thus it cannot spread so easily. This virus, however, is new and no one in the general population is immune to it.”
He said that just because 85% of people infected will have mild symptoms, does not mean that we can write-off the other 15%.
The virology professor said novel coronavirus has turned into a pandemic which could affect two-thirds of the global population.
“That is why it is imperative that measures be taken.”
He said that it is too soon to predict how the virus will behave when the warmer weather comes.