Cyprus in for a very COVID Christmas

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Cyprus faces a vastly different Christmas this year, as government advisors on the pandemic fear worsening epidemiological data could see tighter measures still in place over the festive holidays.

Despite an islandwide curfew and early closing of hospitality, Cyprus health services are still reporting triple-digit daily cases, peaking at a record high of 369 on Saturday.

Sunday recorded another 270 new cases, which were the result of just 2,090 lab tests, meaning one in eight samples tested positive for the virus while another two elderly people died from COVID-19.

Cyprus has recorded 61 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, 13 occurred in the past week.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, Dr Peter Karayiannis, a government advisor and virologist at the University of Nicosia Medical School, said this is a crucial week for epidemiologists to form their proposals to the government.

Curfew and early closing are enforced until December 14 when measures could be rolled back on condition the situation improves, it has not.

Karayiannis said one way or another the government will t have to make decisions on what measures will be in place over Christmas, as the current ones end on Monday 14 December.

“My own evaluation is that the government will have to extend existing measures for at least a few more days, as it’s too early to say if measures have started to work.”

“Right now, we are still in the dark as to whether measures introduced have started to pay off. I believe that we will have a clearer picture towards the end of the week and the beginning of the next.”

The virologist appeared concerned over last week’s results which saw an increase in cases and deaths.

“We are particularly worried over results coming in from rapid testing. Whereas Limassol seems to be doing better, and an indication that earlier measures have paid off, Nicosia and Larnaca are in bad shape.

“Every testing station in Nicosia identified double-digit figures of cases while in Aradippou (Larnaca) 35 cases were found out of 585 samples.”

On Sunday, health authorities reported that 202 positive cases were identified through the rapid antigen detection tests with 70 of them coming from 1,117 tests performed in Larnaca.

Some 102 positive cases were found in Nicosia after 3,575 rapid tests were carried out.

“We are at a crucial point as things could swing in any direction. They could get better, stay the same or could even get worse.

“It all depends on whether we abide by protocols and rules in place, and at the moment, from what we epidemiologists are witnessing, this is not the case.”

Experts acknowledge there is fatigue among the people, but there is an ever-increasing number of deaths, hospital admissions and people in quarantine.

“If we haven’t been affected by the virus yet, we all know someone who has been. That should be a wake-up call,” said Karayiannis.

Currently, there are 121 people in hospitals, 18 of them in an ICU.

Cyprus COVID-19 case tally since the virus outbreak in March is now 12,451, in September it was 1,755.