COVID19: Cyprus fears hotspots, more tests launched

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Cyprus health authorities are worried over the spread of coronavirus in the community following the completion of 3,000 random tests islandwide highlighting several clusters.

In an attempt to determine where the virus is resurging, the ministry has announced another 10,000 free random test scheme to be carried out islandwide.

In a written statement on Wednesday, Cyprus Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said there were concerns over hotspots which “if left unchecked, then the spread of the virus could reach dangerous proportions”.

He called on the public to stand by the health authorities once more in a bid to stem the spread of the virus, asking for people’s understanding and support.

“I am relying on the sense of responsibility of each individual and on the conscience of the vast majority of our society,” said Ioannou.

The minister appeared especially alarmed over data indicating that the majority of new coronavirus carriers are younger people who do not exhibit any symptoms.

“This raises our concerns because it increases the risk of transmission, due to the fact that people with this profile are more socially active and spread the virus, unknowingly, to more people and over a larger geographical area, which makes tracking difficult.”

He noted that the new testing scheme will “help in identifying asymptomatic carriers, allowing us to plan our response”.

“Therefore, the next period will be crucial for the further decisions that we will need to take, to be able to safeguard public health, which with a collective effort we have succeeded in protecting,” said Ioannou.

He said the first line of defence is maintaining personal hygiene and social distancing, keeping the number of contacts as low as possible, while avoiding crowded places.

“I wish to reassure the public, that the situation is under control and that Cyprus’ epidemiological data remains at satisfactory levels.

However, the latest cases are a sign of the resurgence of the virus, which we must stop in time.”

On Cyprus’ decision to go on lockdown in mid-March, the minister said: “We chose to walk down a difficult path and together we managed to be one of the few countries in the world that dealt with the pandemic in an exemplary manner.”

“We have won the battle, but the war is still raging, and we have to be vigilant until a vaccine is found. I ask again for the cooperation and understanding of the public.”

Cyprus has recorded 1,180 cases and 19 deaths since the outbreak.