COVID19: Cyprus cases nearing 20,000 as rapid tests take a Christmas break

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The number of COVID-19 infections in Cyprus is fast approaching the 20,000 mark as health officials announced 433 new cases and three deaths on Thursday, all elderly patients with underlying health issues.

This was 44 less than the new record high of 477 coronavirus cases reported on Wednesday.

The Health Ministry said the total of all SARS-CoV-2 infections since the pandemic started topped 19,316 with Thursday’s positive test results including 94 confirmations of rapid tests conducted on previous days.

The three new deaths were two male patients aged 83 and 94, and a 95 year old woman, a resident of the Ayios Antonios care home in Nicosia.

This raised the death toll to 107 of whom 56 were in December alone, by far the deadliest month since March.

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.

The health ministry said that 142 patients are presently being treated in state hospitals, four less than the day before. Of these, 34 are critical, the same as on Wednesday.

In all, 64 are being treated at the dedicated Covid-clinic at Famagusta General hospital.

A total 8,720 tests were conducted on Wednesday – 4,024 employing the PCR molecular tests and 4,696 antigen rapid tests.

The latter identified 154 new positive cases that need PCR confirmation in order to diagnose the coronavirus. Of these, 43 were traced in Larnaca, 33 in Nicosia, 20 in Limassol, 15 in Famagusta and 3 in Paphos.

The health ministry said there will be no rapid tests on Christmas Day and these will resume on Boxing Day, distorting the daily epidemiological data.

In all, six rapid test centres will operate in all towns on Saturday, as part of the nationwide free testing programme.

These will be between 10 am and 4pm at Gregori Afxentiou Square in Limassol, Europe Square in Larnaca (Phinikoudes), Papaphilippou playground in Strovolos and Eleftheria Square in Nicosia, near Paphos Harbour, and by the Kappari road roundabout in Paralimni.