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COVID19: Cyprus heading for lockdown before Christmas

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Cyprus is bracing itself for stricter measures, including a mini-lockdown, to combat the spread of Covid-19 after daily cases reached new heights with a record 314 over the weekend.

After introducing a night-time curfew last week, experts meet again on Monday to consider tougher restrictions as Cyprus averages 1,000 cases a week.

On 8 October, Cyprus recorded a total of 1,910 cases, that figure surged 213% to 5,987 on 8 November.

New measures are expected to be announced following a meeting between President Nicos Anastasiades and Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou with the team of experts advising the government on handling the coronavirus outbreak.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 pm on Monday

According to reports, the government is contemplating the idea of introducing some form of lockdown as current have failed to pay dividends, but it would only last a matter of weeks.

Government officials and health experts have argued that another lockdown would be an unwanted last resort.

The logic behind the introduction of a short-lived lockdown, is to bring coronavirus case down before Christmas, thus giving an opportunity to the economy to recover during the holiday season.

The Health Ministry on Monday sent out an SMS calling for people to help out authorities in their efforts to bring the virus under control.

It has been the Ministry’s practice in the past month to send out a written message to remind the public they have a part to play.

“Our strategy lays on your contribution. We are confident that we will make it. We thank you,” reads the Ministry’s message.

Cases in Cyprus have been in three-digits since 15 October with the exception of 26 October when 91 cases were reported, as the virus has is now widespread among the community, with the epicentres being the Limassol and Paphos districts.

Ioannou said last week that the cumulative impact in the Limassol District had reached 420 COVID cases per 100,000 and Paphos was 294 per 100,000.

Hospitals on Sunday said they were treating the highest number of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 since the start of the pandemic, as their number rose to 77 at Famagusta and Nicosia general hospitals.

Some 61 patients, positive to SARS-CoV-2, are at Famagusta General Hospital, six of them in the Advanced Care Unit.

Another seven patients are treated at Nicosia General Hospital ICU, and nine more are hospitalized in COVID-19 wards.

The Ministry of Health said the Advanced Care Unit at Famagusta Hospital reached its maximum capacity, calling developments “particularly worrying” since the number of patients is expected to rise in the next few days.

Saturday’s 314 cases were bolstered by cases found at the CYPRA abattoir and meat processing plant in Nicosia where 92 infections were found from 146 tests.

It is the biggest cluster registered since the pandemic started.

The Health Ministry said an investigation was underway and an entirely new shift was brought in to operate the plant.

The ministry added that it was testing workers at another abattoir to see if there was any link from the CYPRA infections.

This cluster has sparked a row between the Health Ministry and the Veterinary Health Services over who was responsible for checking if protocols were being implemented.

George Perdikis, MP for Cyprus Greens, said he had received reports that a large number of foreign workers at the abattoir are living in containers, in some cases without running water.