Random samples of 800 people as well as 20,000 laboratory diagnostic tests within 20 days for those exposed to COVID-19, will give experts a comprehensive picture for the day after lockdown.
The information gathered will help when no more confirmed cases are reported, to decide when to ease restrictive measures in place to combat coronavirus.
Cyprus Health Ministry advisor team and virologist Petros Karayiannis said testing announced by the government will give a picture as to how many asymptomatic carriers or people with mild symptoms are around and do not think they have contracted the coronavirus.
“These are epidemiological data which we have to know and which will help us make decisions about the restrictive measures when no more COVID-19 confirmed cases are reported,” Karayiannis said.
“The goal is to see how the virus has spread, what percentage may be asymptomatic and this information will help towards the end of the pandemic to make the right decisions on the gradual easing of restrictions,” He added.
He pointed out that a targeted collection of samples will be made in hospitals, the National Guard and the police.
“We will worry about asymptomatic carriers when we no longer have reported cases with symptoms.”
“When our curve reaches zero, we must make sure whether such people are moving among us.”
This is why the government has decided to go ahead with a large sample collection to see what is going on.
“We will have to think about how to deal with asymptomatic carriers when we decide to ease the measures.”
Karayiannis said that asymptomatic carriers are a worrying phenomenon, adding that 13% of confirmed COVID-19 cases so far have been asymptomatic.
“It concerns us even now because some of them may be hospitalised and cause a problem.”
He pointed out however that people with no symptoms do not transmit the virus as easily as someone with symptoms, as they don’t cough or sneeze.
For a person with no symptoms to transmit the disease, they would have to come into close contact with someone, to hug them or shake their hands.
“It is more likely that such a person would transmit the disease to those close to them rather than to someone who is not in their circle.”
According to studies, Karayiannis said, asymptomatic people, do not transmit the virus for a long period.
They can transmit it for a period of about 10 days and those who have the virus are likely to recover from it within 20 days.
Referring to the random collection of 800 samples he explained that it is done so that a statistical outcome which will be trustworthy will come out it.
Random testing will take place on people working in both the public and the private sector who are most vulnerable to contract the virus – such as the police and National Guard. (source CNA)