COVID19: Curfew over Christmas if cases don’t drop

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Experts advising the government on coronavirus warned that if new measures fail to flatten the spike there will be “second thoughts” about a partial rollback for the festive season.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, member of the COVID, a virologist at the University of Nicosia Medical School, Peter Karayiannis said Tuesday’s record 318 new cases were a cause for concern.

Karayiannis said the record number could be the result of authorities playing catchup with a backlog of cases identified through rapid testing needing to be confirmed with PCR tests.

However, 153 rapid tests returned a positive result on Tuesday.

“I think this was also because some (samples) that were collected over the weekend were processed yesterday.

“I hope this will not be repeated today and tomorrow because if it is, it means that instead of seeing a decrease, we will see a rise,” Karayiannis told the Cyprus News Agency.

Tuesday’s results follow the trend of the past six weeks, with cases staying in triple digits since 26 October, which led the government to impose the light lockdown.

Current measures in place until December 13 include an island-wide 9 pm to 5 am curfew with restaurants, bars and cafes closing at 7 pm.

There is still a good three weeks to go until Christmas with hopes Cyprus’ epidemiological picture will allow for relaxations.

“The biggest concern, however, is the traffic flow that will occur during the Christmas shopping period.”

“We also have to give measures some time to work. If they do not work, the minister himself said that we should reconsider what to do.

“We are seeing an improvement in the situation this week in Limassol and Paphos, which seems to be a result of the measures taken in previous weeks. So, we see a positive impact.”

Karayiannis urged the public to abide by health protocols and to keep away from crowded places.

Asked about the spike in the ​​Famagusta and Nicosia districts, Karayiannis said it seems people continue not to protect themselves whether it is within the family, their workplace or when out and about.

On the possibility of a local lockdown in Famagusta, which has overtaken Limassol as the new hotspot, Karayiannis said this decision lies with the Health Minister who is also responsible for issuing decrees.