Cyprus announced a new record 457 cases of SARS-CoV-2 on Thursday, 33 more than the previous high a week earlier on December 11 which marked the first day of the ‘light lockdown’ measures to the end of the month in an attempt to control the spread of the virus.
The worrying rate forced the government to impose a ‘light lockdown’ until December 31, including shutting all malls and restaurants, bars, cafés, cinemas and theatres. High school and university classes have gone back to online lessons.
Despite the daily cases remaining stubbornly above 400, government officials are somewhat relieved that the number of patients being treated dropped slightly to 115, but with 25 remaining in critical condition. Some 55 are at the Covid-referral clinic at Famagusta General hospital.
No deaths were reported.
At the same time, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou announced Cyprus will join the EU’s “vaccination days” programme on December 27.
He retweeted a comment by the Commission President adding that “awaiting approval from the EMA, we will start vaccinations [in Cyprus] on 27/12 together with the rest of the EU countries.”
He said this was the “beginning of the end”.
EC chief Ursula von der Leyen announced the Union-wide programme called #EUvaccinationdays.
She said that conditional on EMA approval, that “it’s Europe’s moment. On 27, 28 and 29 December vaccination will start across the EU.
“We protect our citizens together. We are #StrongerTogether,” she declared in her tweet.
Cyprus to get ‘fair share’ of vaccines
Ioannou had said on Tuesday that Cyprus “will be receiving its fair share of the vaccines at the same time with the rest of the European Union”.
Deputy head of the state medical services Olga Kalakouta had said an online logistic system will be introduced to monitor the vaccination process that will take place in 38 centres at a rate of 350 a day.
Kalakouta said that vaccinations will take place only by appointment. People will receive an SMS with the date and the place they are to be vaccinated. The portal will also remind people of the date of the second dose.
Priority will be given to staff and residents of care homes, people with chronic diseases and front-line healthcare professionals.
Cyprus expects an initial delivery of 168,000 doses, the first 48,000 from Pfizer-BioNTech, then regular deliveries of vaccines every three months.
The health services will be receiving two special refrigerating units on December 19 for storing the vaccines.
In total, Cyprus has ordered 3 mln doses from AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Sanofi & Glaxo, Curevac, Moderna, Novavax and Janssen, with each vaccine requiring two shots for immunity (apart from Janssen).
Delivery of vaccine doses is expected until the second quarter of 2022 for AstraZeneca.
306 diagnosed from PCR, 151 confirmations of rapid tests
Thursday’s new cases of COVID-19 included 306 positive results diagnosed from 3,750 molecular PCR tests, as well as 151 confirmations of the antigen rapid tests from the previous days. Five more samples returned negative for the virus.
The total number of coronavirus infections since the pandemic started has now risen to 16,647.
A further 7,768 rapid tests were conducted identifying 240 new positive results that will require PCR confirmation. Rapid tests produce results within 30 minutes, and are estimated to have a 95-98% accuracy rate.
Most of the positive results from the more accurate PCR tests were diagnosed through contact tracing (173 cases), with only two cases identified from 725 tests on passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports.
Of the rapid test positive results, 86 were in Nicosia, 45 in Larnaca, 43 in Limassol, 15 in Famagusta and 10 in Paphos. A further three positive results were traced among 232 tests in old people’s homes in Nicosia, while 24 in Larnaca were all negative.
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