Medical and healthcare workers in the struggle to tackle coronavirus, at Nicosia General Hospital, Cyprus

COVID19: Cyprus cluster worries subside as cases drop to 3

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Cyprus health authorities reported only three new Covid-19 cases on Monday after a roller-coaster week of double-digit infections, including a massive group case that sent an entire football team into quarantine and a bishop into self-isolation.

The health ministry said that that the three new SARS-CoV-2 cases included a person who had all the symptoms since Saturday, a woman who recently returned from Greece, but also an ‘orphan’ case, raising the total in the Republic to 1,603.

The first was a referral from a family doctor, with the patient suffering four of the main symptoms (muscle pains, fever, sore throat and snuffles) from Saturday.

The second was a woman who had tested positive in Greece three weeks ago. She then tested negative, was allowed to travel, but having returned to Cyprus on Saturday, she was ordered by her employer to undergo a new test before returning to work and was found to be positive.

The third case was an ‘orphan’, which is puzzling health officials. It is a university student who was tested as part of a targeted group of 5,000 people aged 18 to 40, but with no recent travel history, no symptoms and had not come into contact with a known case.

A patient who was being treated at Nicosia General was moved to the reference hospital at Famagusta General where a total of nine patients are being treated, two of whom in intensive care.

On Sunday, the number of new cases started to subside somewhat with ten new infections announced by the ministry of health, that was concerned about the discovery of several clusters around the island.

COVID-19 cases surged a day earlier  with 25 new infections, Triple of Friday’s seven.

The health ministry initially said on Saturday there were 15 coronavirus cases, but added another ten later at night after results came in from tests at Larnaca club Nea Salamina where a player was found positive on Friday. In all, 59 samples were taken from club staff and players, while Nea Salamina’s forthcoming games have been postponed.

On Sunday, health officials said that contact tracing procedures were underway among players and officials of other football clubs within Nea Salamina’s range including Ayia Napa FC and Enosi Neon Paralimni, with the latter club getting the all-clear and allowed to continue with its championship obligations.

Earlier on Monday, the ministry of health issued an epidemiological report indicating that the average age of COVID-19 cases in Cyprus remains relatively young at 31 since July.

The low median age of cases is attributed to the fact that people aged between 18-40 are more likely to move around and have more contacts, the report said.

This prompted health services to launch a 5,000 random testing scheme focused on this age group, earlier in the month.

Since July 1, the majority of cases (80%) have been among the 18-59 age group with a mean age of 31, and it has gone up slightly from 30 in August.

The latest pandemic monitoring report prepared by the health ministry’s Epidemiological Surveillance Unit with data until September 17 noted that of 1,559 COVID-19 cases since the outbreak in March, 1,369 (89.5%) have recovered.

Cyprus has performed 39,218.9 tests per 100,000 population, a higher rate than most EU countries.

Meanwhile, the health ministry called on churchgoers who visited the Larnaca Bishopric between 14-18 September to get tested for COVID-19 at a state facility, after a cluster formed among members of staff including Bishop Nektarios.

The ministry on Monday urged people who have visited the Kition Bishopric to call the hotline 1412, stating the nature of their contact with the staff there.

People deemed as contacts of the positive cases will be given an appointment to be tested at a hospital microbiological lab.

Last week, it emerged that two staff members of Larnaca district’s Kition Bishopric had tested positive for the coronavirus, while reportedly, Larnaca Bishop Nektarios also contracted the virus from them.

All three were quarantined for 14-days.

Bishop Nektarios recently also had contact with the Bishop of Tamassos Isaiah, who decided to self-isolate and was to be tested, but the result was not made known.