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COVID19: Scientists expect Cyprus cases to multiply as tracking falters

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With daily coronavirus cases stubbornly in two-digit numbers for two months then leaping to a record 104, epidemiologists warn the entire health strategy has been derailed as Cyprus faces tougher measures.

Field epidemiologist Valentinos Silvestrou of the government’s Epidemiological Surveillance Unit told state broadcaster CyBC radio on Friday that the Health Ministry’s contact tracing team has been overwhelmed and the ‘track and trace’ system seems pointless at this phase.

“We need to introduce more targeted tracking, especially among vulnerable groups that need to be protected. We don’t want an increase in death rates,” Silvestrou said.

He added that Cyprus cannot afford the entire population being infected at the same time, “as the hospitals can’t handle it.”

Silvestrou said that Covid-19 protocols are not being implemented universally.

“We expect a multiplication of infections. For sure reported cases will remain in triple digits in the next few days.”

He said that infected people who should have been in isolation are not doing so, and some went to work despite having symptoms.

“People are not curbing their social activities and are being immature, with reports of some having symptoms and going to weddings.”

Even those doubting the existence of coronavirus have now been convinced, as almost every household knows of one person who has been infected.

“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.

Scientists are also considering whether tracing should also be improved at schools and care homes.

“It is our responsibility to care for our own surroundings.”

Just a fortnight ago, when cases exceeded the 30-mark, epidemiologists warned that COVID-19 cases could increase rapidly over the next few days which could signal the need to introduce more restrictive measures.

Constantinos Tsioutis, assistant professor in infection prevention at European University, said fears over the virus spreading has come true as “we witnessed a large number of clusters forming last week”.

The government advisor said that experts had anticipated the increase as people have relaxed and are not limiting their daily contacts.

Silvestrou had said that people testing positive are not reporting their close contacts which increases the possibility of the virus spreading out of control.

“We definitely expect an increased number of cases because there are already active chains and some of the contacts of existing cases have reported symptoms, so it is highly likely that they will be diagnosed as cases.”

Tsioutis warned the public the road to a coronavirus-free society is a long one to travel as a vaccine will not be available before March 2021 with the virus still troubling humanity in 2022.

He said no vaccine is 100% efficient and he hoped that the coronavirus vaccine would at least have a 70% efficiency rate.

COVID-19 is nothing like the common flu, as it spreads faster and easier while the healing period is much longer.

It also has lasting effects with long-term scars on peoples’ health as the disease has been associated with heart, kidney, and neurological problems.