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COVID19: Scientists to assess curfew, lockdown

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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 COVID-19 cases comes to an end on Monday 30 November, the situation in Paphos appears to have improved, while Limassol cases are stabilising.

Scientist George Nikolopoulos said despite continuing high numbers in Limassol, the rising trend has been curbed, but much to the disappointment of the COVID advisory committee, an increase has been recorded in Nicosia, Larnaca and Famagusta.

Talking to state radio CyBC, Nikolopoulos said: “Numbers in the other three districts are on the rise but are under control. It is a serious situation and needs to be constantly monitored”.

Nikolopoulos said that Paphos’ improved epidemiological picture would be taken into consideration when reassessing the restrictive measures on Wednesday.

He said that Limassol and Paphos had presented a steep rise in mid-October reaching very high numbers in proportion to their populations.

“Not only had cases exceeded safety limits in Limassol and Paphos, but it was also the steep increase which led to rising numbers of patients in hospitals that had been alarming”.

Nikolopoulos did not rule out a third wave of coronavirus, given that colder winter months are ahead and warned that things could take a turn for the worse.

Meanwhile, a rapid testing scheme launched by the government last week has shown that the situation in Paphos is improving significantly, but Limassol still has not pushed cases downwards while other districts delivered disturbing results.

Cyprus Health authorities have carried out some 37,115 rapid tests, resulting in 551 new COVID-19 cases.

More alarming is the 2.5% of tests carried out in Famagusta returned positive, much higher than the 1.8% from tests carried out in Limassol.

More specifically:

Famagusta: 1793 tests, 45 positive (2.5%)

Limassol:  9625 test, 174 positive (1.8%)

Larnaca: 5530 tests, 97 positive (1.75%)

Nicosia: 12945 tests, 205 positive (1.58%)

Paphos: 5429 tests, 30 positive (0.55%)

Paphos and Limassol went into lockdown on 13 November with a night curfew between 8 pm and 5 am and travel ban, until 30 November.

Shopping malls, department stores, restaurants, bars, Children’s play areas, high schools, hair salons, gyms, and beauty parlours also had to close.

In the rest of Cyprus, a late-night curfew from 11 pm to 5 am (2100 GMT to 0300 GMT) will remain until 30 November while bars, cafes and restaurants are required to close by 10:30 pm (2030 GMT).

When announcing the measures, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said that since the pandemic in March until September, only 28% of the cases were from Limassol and Paphos, from October they accounted for 70%.

Some 49 of the then 68 hospital patients (72%) were from the two districts as were seven of the last eight COVID-19 deaths reported until that date.

Cyprus has reported a total of 8,685 COVID-19 cases, around 79% of infections have come since the end of September.