Cyprus reported two deaths on Wednesday and 704 new COVID-19 cases taking the total since the pandemic started to 22,019.
Two men, aged 67 and 90, both with underlying health issues died at Nicosia General hospital, raising the death toll 119, with December counting 70 deaths making it by far the worst month during the coronavirus health crisis.
This raised the number of male patients who died to 78 and women to 41, with an average age of 80 years.
The new diagnosed cases announced by the health ministry were slightly below Monday’s 751 and Tuesday’s record 907, which prompted the government to ban all home visits and restrict the bubble to members of the household.
It also decided to send nearly all civil servants to work from home, leaving the state to operate only with skeleton staff, a decision that nearly paralysed the government machine during earlier lockdowns.
Tuesday’s decisions were an extension of the measures in place until January 10, which despite closing restaurants, bars, cafes and malls entirely, allowed for some relaxation during the holidays and the return of churchgoers for Christmas mass.
Up to ten people from only two families or households will be allowed on New Year’s eve, when the curfew has been extended to 1am.
The health ministry also said that 159 patients are being treated for SARS-CoV-2, 41 of whom are in a critical state. Of these, 68 are admitted at the Covid-reference clinic at Famagusta General hospital.
In all, 118 patients are in the COVID wards at the Famagusta, Nicosia and Limassol hospitals.
On Tuesday, the number of patients was 154, of whom 42 were critical, up one from Monday’s 153 patients, but those who are critical were down from 51 the day before.
The health ministry also said that a total of 17,451 tests were conducted on Wednesday, using both the PCR molecular method and the less accurate antigen rapid tests that no longer require PCR verification.
Of the 467 passengers tested upon arrival at Larnaca and Paphos airports, 7 were positive for COVID-19. Travellers from the UK are placed in quarantine in local hotels until the lapse of 7 or ten days for a confirmation test to allow them to leave.
Nicosia leads with most infections
In the case of the free rapid tests, provided by the state in all towns, Nicosia once again had the most cases with 128 diagnosed for SARS-CoV-2, followed by Larnaca (102), Limassol (79), Paphos 17 and Famagusta (17).
Four residents at old people’s homes test positive out of a total 1,317 tests, as did nine soldiers serving in the National Guard and eight public sector workers.
Cyprus’ inoculation programme kicked-off on Sunday, after the first batch of 9,750 vaccines were received on Saturday.
Health Ministry sources say Cyprus will receive another 6,800 doses before the end of the year with vaccinations conducted as planned.
President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Latsia outpatients’ health centre near Nicosia, calling the vaccination a “gift of life” for Cyprus.
On Tuesday, it was Archbishop Chrysostomos’ turn to be inoculated and he urged the public to be careful and stick to health rules.
“We must realise that in addition to all the other illnesses we live with, we have this disease as well. With the vaccine we will have some safety, but we must all realise that we have to be strict, to stick to the measures introduced by the government, because if we don’t, we will be in trouble,” the archbishop said.
He added that “the virus does not discriminate between the young and the old, so we must all be careful and especially those of us who have some other health issues.”