COVID19: Cyprus starts new year with 2 deaths, rapid tests resume

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Cyprus started the new year with two coronavirus deaths, with the health ministry saying that a record 168 patients are admitted at hospitals.

This follows the unprecedented six COVID-19 deaths on New Year’s eve, raising the death toll since the pandemic started to 127. Both were men, aged 71 and 80, with underlying health issues.

December was the worst month on record, counting for 76 deaths. Of the total SARS-CoV-2 victims so far, 85 were men and 42 women, with the average age being 80 years.

The health ministry said that the number of patients had risen to an all-time high of 168 from 160 the day before, of whom 70 are admitted at the Covid-reference clinic at Famagusta General hospital, two more from the day before. In all, 48 patients are in a critical state, up from 46 on New Year’s eve.

Cyprus ended the year with a total of 22,651 people infected with SARS-CoV-2 since March, having recorded 632 new cases on the last day of the year.

Friday saw the first day of the new year with 167 new cases diagnosed for COVID-19, a far cry from the 600-700 daily infections during the last two weeks. This raised the number of infections since March to 22,818.

With the daily cases surging to an unprecedented 751 on Monday and Tuesday’s record 907, the government imposed a ban on all home visits and restricted the bubble to household members only. It also sent nearly all civil servants to work from home, leaving the state to operate only with skeleton staff.

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 were allowed on New Year’s eve, when the curfew was extended to 1am. As of Friday, the curfew resumes to 9pm.

Due to the New Year holiday the health ministry said that only 3,226 were conducted on Friday, of which 559 were PCR molecular tests and 2,667 antigen rapid tests, compared to a daily sampling of 12-15,000.

For the first time in a while, 150 tests on passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports produced no positive results.

Although a smaller-than-usual number of rapid tests, Nicosia was once again in the lead with 59 positive cases, followed by Larnaca (24), Paphos (23), Limassol (18) and Famagusta (18). Some 11 more were diagnosed in old people’s homes in Limassol.


Rapid tests resume on Saturday

The health ministry said that antigen rapid tests will resume on Saturday at the following locations, from 9am to 4.30pm:

Limassol – Gregori Afxentiou square (Administration building); Limassol Shopping Centre Polemidia (ex-Orphanides); Sigma bakery Kapsalos (Ayias Fylaxeos road); Glafcos Clerides park in Yermasoyia.

Larnaca – Ayios Georgios Kontou church; Economides parking, next to Public; Dromolaxia municipal amphitheatre; Stelios supermarket parking, Livadia. Testing at the central Europe square (Phinikoudes) will be 10am to 3pm.

Nicosia – Eleftheria square; Papaphilippou parking, Makedonitissa; Ayia Paraskevi church, Lakatamia; Tis Tou Theou Sophias cathedral, Strovolos; Stavrou and HadjiIosif crossroad, by Coffee Island; Panayia Evangelistria church, Pallouriotissa; Transfiguration Saviour church (Metamorphoseos Sotiros), Pera Chorio Nissou; Tamassou Oreinis Bishopric, Episkopio.

Paphos – Vryssis square, Peyia; Yeroskipou Municipality.

Famagusta – Zorpas-Hellenic Bank parking, Kappari road, Paralimni; Dherynia Municipality.

The health ministry said that the free testing programme is open to the public, but priority is given to people working in public service, delivery people and frontline professionals.

The test result is sent by SMS message within 24 hours or in writing from the mobile testing units within 30 minutes of the test.