COVID19: Cyprus infection rate slowing, zero cases ‘impossible’

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Cyprus is reducing the infection rate of coronavirus which is a prerequisite for easing the lockdown and social distancing measures, said Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou on Wednesday.

He said Cyprus should evaluate epidemiological indicators before gradually de-escalating restrictive measures taken to stem the pandemic.

Talking to state broadcaster CyBC, the minister said the government should follow the recommendations of the Epidemiological Monitoring Unit, set up to advice the authorities on stopping COVID-19.

The Minister of Health said that a very important indicator is the estimated ratio of virus replication (R0), which is an indication of how many people a patient will infect.

As the Minister explained, at the beginning of the pandemic, this number was 1 to 3 or 4, with each case infecting another three to four people, recording geometric progress.

“According to experts, this indicator should fall to at least 1 to 1 or if possible, below that. Currently, according to the experts, we are at 1 to 1.1”.

Signs that the Cyprus R0 is dropping can be seen in the number of cases identified through tracking contacts of known cases, said the Minister of Health.

Ioannou said at the beginning of the pandemic 40% of new cases were found to be contacts of known cases, this has now dropped to 2.5%.

But he considers it impossible for Cyprus to have zero cases, so hygiene and social distancing remain a priority in tackling COVID-19.

“The virus will not leave the community, it will continue to exist, and we will have to learn to live with the virus until a vaccine is developed.”

“We will not return to our daily routine from one day to the next”.