COVID19: Cyprus hospitals near capacity, 52 cases at care homes

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Cyprus hospitals reached a critical stage on Monday with the number of SARS-CoV-2 patients being treated having peaked at 110, some 30 more than earlier days and state facilities nearing capacity.

The health ministry announced 262 new COVID-19 infections, of which 28 were positive cases identified through antigen rapid tests conducted during the past few days and required confirmation by the PCR method.

This raises the total since the pandemic started to 8,947, or about 1% of the entire population.

In all, the ministry said that 10,832 tests were conducted, of which just under half or 5,167 samples were tested through the PCR method and the rest by way of the antigen rapid tests offered to the public free of charge.

Some 126 of Monday’s positive cases were identified through contact tracing, while the authorities are concerned by the growing number of infections discovered in old people’s homes and rehabilitation centres.

Of the 52 infections at care homes, 37 were from the Petros and Pavlos Home in Liopetri, Famagusta district, and 15 from the Community Centre in Tseri, on the outskirts of the capital Nicosia.

“There is no information for now to say if all cases are inmates or if they include staff as well. In both clusters, the control tests were conducted by the Ministry after coronavirus infections were discovered,” explained a health ministry spokesperson.

Only one infection was identified from among 344 tests of passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports, while focused testing of workers in Limassol and Paphos, that remain under partial lockdown until the end of November, produced 11 positive cases.

The health ministry added that of Monday’s rapid tests, 70 samples were positive and need to be confirmed via PCR.

These were 17 in Limassol, 13 in Larnaca, 11 in Famagusta, 25 in Nicosia and four from 1,617 tests among soldiers serving in the National Guard.

The health ministry said that 110 patients were being treated at the state hospitals.

Of these, 70 were at the Covid-referral clinic at Famagusta General hospital, 24 at Nicosia General, 12 in Limassol and four at the Makarios hospital in Nicosia. Two of the four were infants admitted to the paediatric ward.

The two infants are aged two and ten months, among the youngest cases of COVID-19 in Cyprus. They are considered to be in good condition, without fever and will be released within the next few days.

Avraam Elia, Director of Paediatrics at the hospital said both were kept at negative pressure isolation rooms for reasons of safety, reassuring parents that children and in particular infants do not seem to be affected by COVID-19.

He added that the coronavirus infects no more than 6% of all children and rarely produces serious clinical cases that lead to complications or even death.

He said that to date, the Makarios hospital has admitted 12 children, the youngest being 17 days old and all recovered very well.

Meanwhile, epidemiologists will meet President Nicos Anastasiades on Wednesday to assess COVID-19 intervention measures in deciding whether to end a lockdown on Limassol and Paphos or extend restrictions.

As measures introduced to curb a rise of coronavirus cases comes to an end on Monday, November 30, the situation in Paphos appears to have improved, while Limassol cases are stabilising.

However, Paphos Mayor Phedon Phedonos has called for an official explanation after a government advisor on the pandemic declared the town should not have been placed on lockdown.

The outspoken mayor said such comments have upset residents, while raising a number of questions which authorities should address immediately.