Cyprus reported 166 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 on Wednesday, below Tuesday’s 174 and far from the 190-plus daily cases seen during the past two weeks.
However, the number of patients in hospital has shot up from 40 and 42 during the past two days to 57, five of whom in intensive care, with health officials suggesting the need for a second Covid-19 referral hospital to relieve the pressure from Famagusta General.
The new cases have taken the national total to 5,100, while six coronavirus cases were reported in the Turkish occupied north a day earlier. With the total number of cases reported by Turkish Cypriot health officials at 945, the islandwide total is now 6,045.
Health ministry officials said 63 of the new cases were identified through contact tracing of existing infections, and the remainder from targeted testing or referrals by GPs. Of these, 15 positive cases were found among arrivals at Larnaca and Paphos airports.
An old people’s care home in Limassol is subject to a health ministry investigation as lack of protocols and absence of government oversight saw cases spread like wildfire, infecting about 40 patients.
A Cyprus watchdog championing rights of the elderly accused the government of ageism on Tuesday when two people from the Limassol care home died after being rushed to hospital.
Another four elderly people residing in the care home have been admitted to COVID-referral hospital Famagusta General for treatment.
With the number of Covid-19 infections shooting up to 3-digit figures in recent weeks, October accounting for about two thirds of all cases this year, Cyprus is bracing for fresh measures to be announced by President Anastasiades after an extraordinary cabinet meeting late on Wednesday.
Some of the restrictions include a late-night curfew extended to all towns, after they were initially introduced in Limassol and Paphos where the biggest coronavirus clusters had formed during the past two months, while wedding dinners are expected to see guest numbers slashed from 350 to 150.
Cocktail parties have already been banned, as is standing in line to congratulate the bride and groom, while home visits will from now on be limited to six people, as is the maximum number of people per table at restaurants and bars.
An expert in infection prevention and control, Constantinos Tsioutis said earlier on Wednesday that even if a vaccine becomes available, the restrictions will not be lifted until its effectiveness is proven.
Tsioutis said the need for additional measures is evident, both in areas where there is a spike in cases and the rest of the country.
He added that without a vaccine in sight, Cypriots must learn to live with COVID-19 restrictions for some time to come such as practising social distancing and mask-wearing.