COVID19: Cyprus reports 198 new cases amid testing backlog

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Cyprus reported 198 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 on Tuesday, the fifth highest rate in the last month and since the pandemic started, with the number of infections to date totalling 6,296.

The health ministry announced earlier in the day that three elderly people being treated for Covid-19 had died, raising the death toll to 38 and prompting President Anastasiades to call an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday evening.

He met with the government’s scientific advisors on Monday, as well as several ministers on Tuesday, possibly to get a consensus on stricter measures, including a partial lockdown for Limassol and Paphos, the epicentres for most of the coronavirus clusters in recent months.

“As regards the three deaths announced today, this confirms the assessment that as days pass and the number of infections remain high, this situation will become even more difficult,” the health ministry spokesperson said in a note to journalists.

“The average age of terminal cases is 74 years, while of the 38 deaths reported so far, 26 are aged between 70 and 94.

“This raises alarm bells for everyone. Most of the elderly are not people with active social activity, thus the most probable way they were infected is through contacts within their close family circle or friends. For this reason it is very important that we always take into consideration that the proper enforcement of protection measures not only protects us, but also safeguards those people who do not have any means to protect themselves, as are the elderly.”

With the number of tests also doubled, at 4,143, the government is under pressure to urge labs to process more samples over the weekends when they don’t work and the results are rolled over to the first days of the week, throwing off balance the true epidemiological landscape of Cyprus.

The health ministry spokesperson said that the number of patients being treated at the Covid19-referral hospital at Famagusta General, as well as other state hospitals had marginally dropped to 76 from 85 on Monday.

At the same time, from 538 tests conducted on passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports, seven were positive.

Tuesday’s results include 22 new infections linked to the 92 found at the CYPRA abattoir announced on Saturday, mainly from contacts of family members and colleagues, as well as from the Kato Moni village and nearby communities where the slaughterhouse is based.

CYPRA, the biggest abattoir on the island has since shut down and opposition Greens MP George Perdikis has accused the management of ill-treatment of the foreign staff who are living in poor conditions, a matter which he said is covered up because the ownership is linked to senior government officials.

A second batch of targeted testing with 26 samples at another abattoir, proved negative.