COVID19: Cyprus death toll continues to rise, December could peak

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Three elderly people died on Friday, the oldest being a 94 year old woman, raising the December death toll from COVID-19 to 8 and since the start of the pandemic to 57. Cyprus also reported 289 new cases, while 111 patients are currently being treated at state hospitals.

Almost half of COVID-19 related deaths recorded in Cyprus since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March were in November, the Health Ministry said on Friday.

Weekly analysis of the spread of the virus shows that 35 people or 47% of hospital patients who contracted COVID-19 died in November. Of these, 71% were residents of Limassol district.

The three deaths were a woman, 84, without underlying health issues, who was being treated at the intensive care ward of Nicosia General hospital. The second was a man, 78, without underlying health issues, who also died at the Nicosia hospital.

The third death was a woman, 94, with underlying health issues, who was a resident of the Peristerona community centre and was admitted to Limassol General.

A health ministry spokesperson said that ten more residents at the Peristerona centre had a positive result from antigen rapid tests that will require confirmation through the more accurate PCR molecular method.

In all, the ministry announced 289 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 on Friday, including 56 confirmations of antigen rapid tests conducted earlier in the week. One sample returned negative.

This raises the coronavirus total for December to 958, while the total for November, the worst month since the pandemic started, was 6,157. In the north, Turkish Cypriot authorities reported 169 cases in November and 36 in the first four days of December.

In all, the Republic of Cyprus has to date diagnosed 11,812 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic started.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, a member of the government’s advisory committee and a faculty member at the University of Nicosia Medical School, appeared concerned over the recent increase in cases, urging the public to remain vigilant and adhere to stricter measures imposed on Monday.

Earlier in the week, virologist Petros Karayiannis had warned that if new measures fail to flatten the spike, there will be “second thoughts” about a partial rollback during the festive season.

The health ministry said that 9,562 tests were conducted on Friday, of which 3,848 were by PCR and 5,714 were rapid tests. Of the latter, 176 were positive for COVID-19 and will require PCR confirmation over the next few days.

Of these, 8 were in Limassol and none in Paphos, the two towns that went into partial lockdown in the second half of November, while the infection clusters now seem to have moved to Nicosia and Larnaca district where 85 and 71 positive cases were diagnosed, respectively.

In Famagusta district, only 12 new cases were diagnosed through rapid tests.

The health ministry also said that of the 111 patients being treated at state hospitals, 17 were critical.

More than half of the patients, 60 in total, are being treated at the Covid-referral clinic at Famagusta General hospital.