December is now officially the worst month since the COVID-19 pandemic started with three deaths announced on Wednesday raising the death toll to 104, more than half of which this month alone, with a new record 477 daily coronavirus cases.
The worsening situation, undeterred by the arrival of the first vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech this weekend, vindicated the government’s earlier decision to extend restriction measures beyond the initial December 31 deadline, to January 10.
At the same time, following the discovery of a new COVID strain, Cyprus has banned British travellers by placing the United Kingdom in category C, which means that non-Cypriot visitors are denied entry without a special permit.
A 90-year-old man and two elderly women, 94 and 97, died on Wednesday, all with underlying health issues. Two were diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 and were being treated at the dedicated Covid-clinic at Famagusta General hospital, and the third died at the Archangelos Michael home for the elderly in Nicosia.
On Monday, the number was revised up after four deaths of elderly people at their care homes earlier in the month were not reported to the authorities in time.
This raised doubts from a senior citizens’ rights group, questioning the validity of the number of deaths at care homes and the competence of staff to treat the elderly patients.
New record from December 17 high
The 477 new coronavirus cases upped the previous record of 457 announced a week earlier, on December 17, with the total infections since March raised to 18,883.
Wednesday’s figures included four positive cases from among 792 passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports, and 175 confirmations of rapid tests conducted on pervious days.
The Health Ministry said a total 14,188 tests were carried out – 4,343 employing the PCR molecular method and 9,845 antigen rapid tests.
From the latter group, 233 new cases were discovered that will require confirmation using the more accurate PCR tests.
Once again Nicosia had the biggest number of positive results, at 70, followed by Larnaca (59) and Limassol (54). Famagusta district had only 9 and Paphos had the lowest number, 6.
The health ministry said that 146 patients are being treated in state hospitals, 70 of whom at the Covid-clinic in Famagusta. This is a rapid increase on the 130 patients on Tuesday.
It added that 34 of all the patients are critical, up from 32 on Tuesday.