COVID19: Restrictions wrapped-up for Christmas

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Cyprus could be in a better situation by Christmas in containing COVID-19 but scientists warn that restrictive measures will still be in place over the holiday season.

The newly-appointed head of the committee of scientists advising the government, Dr Constantinos Tsioutis said, “no-one should be under the impression that there will be no measures over the holidays”.

Dr Tsioutis warned: “It will be a period of extreme risk, particularly as regards gatherings that may operate as a launchpad for a new wave of infections and a rise in hospital admissions”.

Asked whether the public should expect a tightening or loosening of measures, Dr Tsioutis said Friday it was still too early to draw safe conclusions as to the success of the latest batch of restrictions that were introduced November 6.

“To be safer we will need to wait another week. Either way, the November 30 timeframe is approaching, and we are already discussing what measures could be in place, either stricter or less strict depending on our conclusions.”

Tsioutis argued lockdown measures taken were aimed at reducing social contacts, prevent transmission between districts while enhancing the testing procedure with the increase of both rapid diagnostic tests and molecular tests (PCR).

He argued that the ultimate goal was to protect the vulnerable and the health system.

Dr Tsioutis said rapid tests “in the first phase, are used for checking the general population and in the near future will be used for testing specific groups which are at a higher risk”.

He also urged those who are exempt from the travel ban in Paphos and Limassol should only move from one district to another if absolutely necessary.

He once again urged for “strict adherence to protocols in work, as scientists have regrettably identified clusters forming at offices and other workplaces”.

Professor of epidemiology and a government advisor, Dr George Nikolopoulos said the second wave appears to have reached its peak, but numbers are expected to remain in triple digits for some time to come.

Nikolopoulos said there has been a clear drop in the number of new cases in Paphos and some improvement in Limassol.

“But other districts are registering increases, although it is encouraging that the rise is not sharp.”

“The data at the moment indicates that there is a burden in Famagusta, followed by Larnaca and Nicosia. There is an increasing trend, but it is not sharp, which is encouraging.”