Medical and healthcare workers in the struggle to tackle coronavirus at Nicosia General Hospital (Photo PIO)

COVID19: Cyprus cases still high at 224, hospital patients on the rise

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Cyprus reported 224 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 on Friday, slightly down from Thursday’s record 233, making it the third time that the total rose above 200 during the past two weeks.

The new infections raises the coronavirus number since the pandemic started in March to 5,557.

However, the number of patients hospitalised increased marginally, from 65 on Thursday to 70, of whom 54 are being treated at the COVID-19 referral hospital at Famagusta General.

The ministry of health said 79 of the new infections were identified through contact tracing, while 80 tested positive after referrals from their GPs. Testing also discovered 16 positive cases among passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports.

Earlier in the day, the University of Cyprus shut down parts of its main campus in Nicosia when a cleaning crew member was tested positive after contact tracing from previous infections.

Two departments of the Business and Management school were disinfected and will reopen on Sunday. Students are already attending classes online.

Six students and two teachers at the Mitsis commercial school in Lemythou were also tested positive, probably infected from the runaway cluster at Kyperounda, while two staff at the House of Representatives also tested positive, with the main parliament building, as well as the annex at the Philoxenia shut down for disinfection.

The House also issued an announcement saying all deputies and staff would be from Monday.

Speaking to the press earlier on Friday, members of the scientific advisory committee said that Cyprus is currently in a particularly crucial phase of the pandemic.

They said that the indicators show that Cyprus is a country of increased epidemiological risk, therefore the measures announced are targeted and necessary.

Professor Leontios Kostrikis and epidemiologists Zoe Dorothea Pana, Konstantinos Tsiotis, George Nikolopoulos and Costas Konstantinou urged the public to comply with the health protocols and wear masks, observe social distancing as well as good hygiene.

They said that 1,800 new cases were recorded in the last two weeks along, of which 1,046 were in Limassol, following a similar trend throughout Europe.

Dr. Nikolopoulos said that mortality are a major concern and the use of masks can halve the predicted death rate in the coming months.

Dr. Konstantinou said that the number of beds and respirators in Cyprus is high and one of the highest per capita, while Prof. Kostrikis said that the PCR tests that detect the genetic material of the virus is time consuming and technically complex. He said that antigen tests are an easy and faster method.

Dr. Tsioutis warned there was increased transmission in the workplace, while Dr Pana said in the case of children, studies show they do not become seriously ill and the transmission is low among eleven year olds and younger.