COVID19: Cyprus cases rise to 181, ministers in quarantine

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Cyprus reported 181 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 on Tuesday, the third highest to date, lifting the total since March to 3,817 and health officials suggesting the need for a second referral hospital to deal with rising number of patients who need treatment.

The health ministry said Tuesday’s cases were mainly 48 infections discovered through contact tracing from earlier cases and 120 who reported at least one symptom and were referred by their GP.

Only five new cases were identified from among 891 tests on arriving passengers at Larnaca and Paphos airports.

Three high-profile government officials also went into self-isolation – the minister of transport, the minister of defence and the junior minister for shipping – after coming into contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case.

The ministry said that there were no cases from targeted testing among school staff and students, nor from football clubs.

With 31 patients currently being treated at state hospitals, prompting the state health services organisation (OKYPY) to consider establishing a second reference hospital for COVID-19, an indication it fears an increase in admissions over the coming weeks.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency on Tuesday, OKYPY spokesperson Charalambos Charilaou said the state body asked the ministry to establish a second reference hospital in case the one in Famagusta reaches full capacity and cannot receive any more patients for treatment.

However, Charilaou said OKYPY has yet to receive a response or relevant instruction from the ministry.

Famagusta General, which is the designated reference hospital has a capacity of 100 beds.

“Those with mild or no symptoms are admitted to Eden rehabilitation centre in Tersefanou (near Larnaca). The rest of the hospitals will manage suspect cases, while if need be, Nicosia hospitals will provide beds in the intensive care units (ICU),” Charilaou said.

He argued that state hospitals are ready to deal with a sharp increase in coronavirus cases.

He added that the private sector has also been instructed on how to treat suspected cases in assigned rooms until the results from the lab tests for COVID-19 are issued.

EWarlier on Tuesday, it was reported that Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos, Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides and Deputy Minister of Shipping Vasilis Demetriades have all been told to self-isolate.

According to reports, the close contact who tested positive to the virus is an advisor to the transport minister who participated in a meeting in Larnaca on Friday where all three officials attended.

Reportedly, Karousos came into contact with the confirmed case prior to meeting the defence minister and the deputy minister of shipping at Larnaca’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre.

It is understood the transport minister tested negative while the results for the other two officials are pending.

Karousos was instructed to self-isolate despite testing negative and has stayed away from his office this week.

A number of people at JRCC in Larnaca, who came into contact with the three officials, have also been tested.