Cyprus reported 94 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 on Friday, some 428 since last Saturday, the highest weekly rate since the pandemic started as clusters of infections continue to spread at a dangerous pace, mainly due to complacency.
The ministry of health said that the total number of infections had reached 2,379, with the number of patients being treated at the COVID-19 reference ward at Famagusta General hospital doubling to ten. Two more patients remain intubated at Nicosia General.
The statement from the ministry said that 3,084 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, of which 350 were among possible contacts of positive infections identified through contact tracing.
However, the ministry also said that in previous days, some people who tested positive had not come forward, were not responding to calls and had been to their workplaces, despite showing some o the coronavirus symptoms.
Throughout the week, several clusters of positive cases were reported, mainly in Limassol and mostly linked to a few cafés where students and young people frequent, in some cases sharing shisha pipes and ignoring personal hygiene protocols (distancing, masks, washing hands).
This propelled the number of daily cases from the average 20-30 daily seen since the beginning of September when schools reopened, staff returned to work and the football season commences, to the record high of 104 seen on Thursday, sending shockwaves throughout Cyprus society.
Earlier on Friday, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said that although the pandemic in Cyprus is at a critical juncture, there are no plans to enforce a national lockdown.
On Saturday, President Nicos Anastasiades will chair an emergency meeting of the epidemiological team to assess the situation and new measures could be announced.
At the same time, scientists warned the entire health strategy has been derailed as Cyprus faces tougher measures.
Field epidemiologist Valentinos Silvestrou said that the Health Ministry’s contact tracing team has been overwhelmed with new cases to investigate and the ‘track and trace’ system seems pointless at this phase.
He added that Cyprus cannot afford the entire population being infected at the same time, “as the hospitals can’t handle it.”
“If we continue [at this rate], we will be forced to have a local or national lockdown, we need to limit the number of infections,” Silvestrou.
To date, Cyprus has attributed 25 deaths directly to COVID-19.