COVID19: 1 more death in Cyprus as frustration rules in “light lockdown”

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Cyprus announced one death and 182 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 on Monday, some 30 more than Sunday but far less than the number of coronavirus cases reported during the past weeks, with November alone accounting for nearly two thirds of all infections since the pandemic started.

The new cases raised the total infections to date to 10,565, breaking past the 10,000 mark on Saturday.

Monday was also the first day of a nationwide “light lockdown” with shops and restaurants closing from 7pm and a curfew imposed from 9pm in an effort to contain transmission of COVID-19 that has seen a rampant spread and has to date taken 49 lives.

The latest death was a 72 year old man with underlying health issues who was being treated at the intensive care ward of the Nicosia General hospital.

As the public has not adhered to health and safety measures, the advisory team of epidemiologists urged the government to take stricter measures, at least for two weeks prior to the Christmas and New Year breaks.

But the new rules, lifting Limassol and Paphos out of harsher lockdown measures and imposing new ones on all other towns, were frustrating to the general population, many of whom took to social media to vent their anger at the inequalities of the new regulations.

These included church services remaining unchanged with a cap of 75 people. Gyms and children’s playgrounds have also been shut down.

However, church gatherings, mostly by elderly people who are also the most vulnerable to the coronavirus, seem to be the biggest offenders of the social distancing measures, with a televised mass on Sunday showing packed crowds and no one wearing a mask at the consecration of the Ayios Filomenos church in Orounta.

Comments on social media displayed the public anger at such complacency saying the government and the police are tolerant to these violations, while condemning a police ‘crackdown’ on three Nepalese housemaids sitting in a park without face masks, who were fined €300 each.

A woman from Famagusta district was charged for breaking isolation rules as she was a positive infection and chose to go shopping on Black Friday, with social media comments saying she will probably be let off with a mild fine.

Zanettos tavern in Nicosia, a popular restaurant established in 1938, shut down its business on Monday and owner Panayiotis Mentzis-Zanettos called the government’s measures a “theatre of the absurd”.

“According to the last decree, restaurants must close at 7 pm. We will not experiment with home delivery service or to become a lunch restaurant. Our mission is to host, in our own space, an experience that you enjoy in peace, without looking at the clock what time you have to leave.

“Those who want to support restaurants that will remain open will help to preserve jobs,” something which the government is not doing.

“We are living in the theater of the absurd,” the restaurant’s management said, concluding that they may re-open, some day in the future, when the situation improves.

Monday’s new COVID-19 cases included 79 positive samples identified in previous days through the antigen rapid test kits that are free to the public. They required confirmation through the more accurate molecular PCR testing, with three samples returned negative for SARS-CoV-2.

On Monday, a total of 7,551 were conducted, similar to Sunday’s sample size, of which 2,461 used the PCR method and diagnosed 103 new cases.

Of the 5,090 rapid tests, 125 were positive and will need PCR confirmation. Of these, 10 were traced in Limassol District, 59 in Larnaca, 12 in Famagusta, 38 in Nicosia and none in Paphos. Two soldiers serving in the National Guard tested positive, as did four health workers.

The number of patients being treated at state hospitals rose to 127, of whom 69 are at the Covid-referral clinic at Famagusta General hospital.

A health ministry official said that the 14 positive cases identified through rapid testing at the Panayia old people’s home on Sunday have not yet been confirmed.