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COVID-19: Cyprus could take longer to reach zero cases

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It could take Cyprus longer than anticipated to see zero COVID-19 cases while easing the lockdown could see infections spike, said Dr Petros Karayiannis, professor of microbiology and molecular virology.

He told CNA, that Cyprus needed to avoid at all costs a situation where the virus spreads in the community due to indifference.

“If we see 20-30 case per day for three or four consecutive days for the situation to get out of control. If this happens, we will need to take two steps back,” Karayiannis said.

He said self-diligence was needed especially at a time when the government was easing the lockdown and restrictions on free movement from Monday.

It said each phase out of lockdown will take into account whether the COVID-19 pandemic is still under control

Karayiannis pointed to the current level of single-digit cases reported on a daily basis in Cyprus.

“We have to be twice as careful during this time…the virus may spread after relaxing the measures if precautions are not observed.”

“I hoped that we would have zero [cases] by now, but there has been some negligence (by the people).”

From the data available, there is no obvious peak attributed to people’s behaviour during Easter, the professor said and noted that health authorities are dealing mostly with isolated incidents.

“Of course there have been confirmed cases among the staff of a few businesses and in a nursing home but a single source of infection is easier to put under control than isolated cases.”

“Isolating a source of infection does not require drastic measures across the population, as in the case when the virus spreads in the community.”

He also referred to the importance of keeping the R0 rate, or reproduction number, below 1 as an indication that the epidemic is declining and will disappear at some point.

Statistics indicate that Cyprus is well below 1, at 0.3 for some time now, but after measures are eased, the rate is expected to go up since not everyone will observe protocols.