Authorities urged people to stay home on Saturday as Cyprus recorded 17 new coronavirus cases bringing total infections to 179 since the outbreak began.
The Health Ministry said five have died from Covid-19, while another 17 tested positive, bringing the total of confirmed cases to 179 (including five in the British Bases) of which 95 were infected in Cyprus.
Announcing the 17 new cases on Saturday, Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Cyprus Dr Leontios Kostrikis, said three had recently come from a European country, 10 had contact with previously diagnosed cases, another case was from the British Bases.
Kostrikis said the health services are also looking into another 3 cases whose history is unknown.
He said 15 of the people diagnosed with the virus and hospitalised have been cured.
The 179 cases were confirmed following 5, 917 tests run by the Institute of Neurology and Genetics and the Microbiology Department of the Nicosia General Hospital.
“The next few days are crucial to the outcome of this titanic effort we are all making. We urge citizens to continue with patience and perseverance in the faithfully observing the directives so that the situation remains manageable.”
Kostrikis said authorities will soon be able to make a detailed assessment of the epidemiological picture of the virus.
Based on preliminary data, 27% of the cases were reported in Nicosia, 27% in Paphos, 7% in Famagusta, 14% in Limassol and 21% in Larnaca.
“The situation is manageable, and we continue with the same determination. The directive is clear and very simple: We stay home.”
He said people were breaking the social distancing decree restricting free movement to only approved essential activity.
“Our fellow citizens do not seem to understand the seriousness of the situation. It is important to understand that things can become critical from one moment to the next.”
Dr Marios Loizou of the State Health Services Organisation (OKYPY) said: “Unfortunately in this battle, we have already lost 5 of our fellow citizens. In the coming days, some others will definitely get sick.”
He said the aim was for most people to self-isolate with mild symptoms at home because the more serious cases need a ventilator for prolonged periods and bed capacity becomes crucial.
“No health system in the world can handle a very large, unprecedented 21st Century number of cases at the same time,” said Loizou.
“In the United States, cases have exceeded 100,000 today, while in New York state they are approaching, if not exceeding, 30,000. In Manhattan, some of the best hospitals in the world find it difficult or impossible to manage the situation,” he added.
He said slowing down the spread is critical to enable the health system to provide the best possible care, staying at home is the only way.
Out of the five people who lost their lives, four were men and one was a woman. The average age of the victims was 63 while the mortality rate is 3%.
Covid-19 reference hospital Famagusta General is currently treating 23 people, half of whom are on a ventilator.