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COVID19: Cyprus sees transmission rate double

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Cyprus is having a hard time containing new coronavirus cases as the virus transmission rate in the country has doubled, according to official data.

During a press conference, Dr Zoi-Dorothea Pana and Dr Leondios Kostrikis, members of the epidemiological team advising the government on coronavirus said the transmission (R) rate is now somewhere between 1.6 and 2.

The transmission rate has rocketed from under 1 closer to 2 within less than a month, according to the epidemiological report.

The rate in mid-July was then reported to be somewhere between 0.75 and 1.1.

Our goal, said Kostrikis, must be to bring the transmission rate back to under 1.

He explained that with a transmission rate of between 1.6 to 2, means that every infected person can transmit the virus, on average, to another two people.

During the lockdown, experts said that for authorities to ease restrictions, Cyprus had to lower its transmission rate to below one.

If the rate is above one, it means the number of coronavirus cases will increase exponentially.

The experts expressed their concern that the renewed spread of the virus is occurring mostly among young, asymptomatic carriers.

Kostrikis said that the majority of cases recorded in recent days involve young asymptomatic people, up to 40 years old.

He said that people in this age group have more contacts which help the virus to spread easier while making it harder to trace larger numbers of contacts.

“It is only a matter of time before these people transmit the virus to older or sick people and we will start having symptomatic and serious patients”.

Scientists have assessed whether stricter measures, such as those recently imposed in Limassol, are also required in other towns, as the renewed flare-up of the island’s pandemic appears to be picking up speed in other districts as well.

Limassol has seen a set of stricter measures applied last week, after clusters had formed in the city, including the reduction in the number of people allowed at social gatherings.

Dr Pana said that the focus was put on Limassol clearly because of the chains of infections that were building up there with no intention to stigmatise the city.

The experts ruled out a new lockdown, saying that it was not the authorities aim but people should limit their contacts.

Pana noted that 70.6% of cases detected between 20 July and 3 August are local infections.

She added that “complacency is our worst enemy…we must avoid gatherings as must as possible.”

Pana announced that from now on, coronavirus updates will be issued on a weekly basis.

Kostrikis argued that there is a long road ahead before we get rid of the virus, noting that it looks more like a marathon rather than a short race which will last a couple of weeks.

“We are running in a marathon which will only end when we have the vaccine in our hands.”