Finding the quickest route out of Coronaville

3 mins read

When it came to the crunch, the government decided not to deliver a hefty hammer blow to coronavirus last week despite Cyprus experiencing a harsher second wave.

We are told that if we observe the rules, wash our hands, limit contacts, and keep socially distanced the war against this deadly virus can be won.

But at what cost is victory.

It doesn’t feel that Cyprus has got a grip of this second coming of the outbreak like it did in the first.

Maybe it has become a victim of its own success.

In buffering the virus early doors, it now has less strength and know-how to manage a much larger wave.

We can no longer declare Cyprus safe or tell the Europeans to come on down for a holiday because the virus is squatting in our backyard.

Although this tidal wave of infections has dwarfed the one in early March, there is no coherent national conversation about what is happening.

There seems to be no coherent opposition to challenge what the government is doing, nobody is really questioning its strategy or offering a third way.

Should the government have gone in hard and faster to smash the virus, rather than adopt a piecemeal approach where chains of transmission grow while COVID patients fill more hospital beds?

Where are the alternative voices calling for softer or stricter measures, arguing whether wearing masks outdoors will have any quantitative effect?

What about those scientists that have a different take on the pandemic they cannot all agree with the course of action being taken?

Granted, some believe a harder lockdown is inevitable the way the virus is spreading and allowing the economy to stay open is a risky gambit.

Cyprus got on top of the first wave because it did not hesitate to make the hard decisions to protect public health.

The government has now grown more hesitant in pulling down the shutters on a fragile economy.-

But a short, sharp, shock could save as from prolonged misery and hardship.

For the hospitals to remain functional and schools to stay open, something has to give, unless Cyprus can conduct mass testing to keep the economy going.

Difficult questions

Who is asking the difficult questions about an under-pressure test and trace system, where are the MPs demanding the data for the percentage of people not being contacted or the failure rate in reaching close contacts?

During the summer, when we were getting only a handful of daily cases, track and trace wasn’t so much of a challenge.

Cyprus is witnessing more cases in a single day than it did in a month not so long ago – the aftershocks are being felt by the health system.

This is a health emergency like no other, stripping away at the normality that everyday life embodies – physical contact and interaction.

Where is the scrutiny of government in managing this second wave especially, in care homes, or the creation of protective bubbles for the vulnerable?

Cyprus is now under a night-time curfew; bars cafes and restaurants must shut at 10.30 pm, but this doesn’t come close to the total lockdown in March to early May.

There are harsher restrictions for Limassol – such as gyms and playgrounds closing – but the curfew and limit on social gatherings don’t seem to have stopped the virus spreading.

Evidence suggests there is high transmission in the workplace, here again, the government has been slow to encourage and coerce businesses to operate remotely if and where possible.

The Health Minister belatedly coded the recommendation this week, but the message hasn’t been hammered home often or loud enough.

Limassol is at the epicentre with around 420 cases per 100,000 and Paphos not far behind on 300 per 100,000 of population.

The two districts had restrictions for nearly two weeks before the new ones were introduced but, still, these areas have yet to turn a corner in flattening the spike.

Scientists will argue that it’s too early to judge the effects of the measures pointing out the rate of infection is not increasing even if cases have stayed in three-digits.

In the last two weeks, out of the 1,800 new COVID cases recorded, 1,046 were in Limassol (58%).

I have heard no scientific explanation of why Limassol – which had the lowest case rate during the March outbreak – is different from the rest of the country.

Cyprus has ratcheted 210 cases per 100,000 while the safety limit is 60 per 100,000 with more people over 60 contracting the virus, deaths are not far behind.

This is a code-red health crisis, it’s time the authorities buckled up, people need to hear the alarm ringing before it’s too late.