COVID19: Case numbers stable, but still high, as lockdown possible

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With two deaths in Cyprus, 665 new coronavirus cases and 180 patients admitted in hospitals, the COVID-19 pandemic does not seem to be waning, with the government contemplating a second all-out lockdown.

The scientific advisory council met with the health minister on Monday and will consult with President Anastasiades on Tuesday, prior to a Cabinet meeting on Thursday that will decide on the next measures to combat the virus.

However, news reports suggest that council members disagree on the extremity of the measures being discussed, while other government departments, such as the Ministry of Education, does not favour closing schools due to the impact this will have on working parents and other members of society.

Monday’s death of two men, aged 73 ad 88, raised the death toll for January to eight and the to-date figure to 133. December was the worst month since March with 76 deaths.

The health ministry said that the number of patients diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 and being treated in state hospitals was 180, two less than the day before.

Of these, 51 are critical, up from 45 on Sunday, while 65 are patients at the Covid-reference clinic at Famagusta General hospital.

With the capacity for Covid patients estimated at 200, the hospitals operator OKYPY is said to have instructed the general hospitals in Limassol and Nicosia to increase their beds and wards.

A total of 13,495 tests were conducted on Monday, using both the PCR molecular method and the antigen rapid tests, where 665 cases were diagnosed with COVID-19, raising the total infections since March to 24,639.

Contact tracing accounted for 204 of the day’s new cases, as well as four new infections diagnosed among 737 passengers tested upon arrival at Larnaca and Paphos airports.

Of the 364 positive results from rapid tests, 113 were in Nicosia, 107 in Limassol, 104 in Larnaca, 10 in Famagusta and nine in Paphos, while 21 new cases were diagnosed in old people’s homes in Nicosia and Larnaca.

 

Tracing the ‘UK-strain’

All passengers arriving from the UK are taken to government-sponsored hotel accommodation where they are obliged to stay in quarantine for seven days.

On Monday, two of the 186 who had recently arrived from Britain and completed their seventh day of quarantine, were re-tested and diagnosed as positive for COVID-19.

Cyprus recently extended the directive to oblige all arrivals from the United Kingdom to quarantine for seven days in hotels, paid for by the Cyprus taxpayer. However, a negative test is required on the seventh day in order to be released, after which they need to be in self-isolation for a further three days.

Cyprus has discovered 12 cases of a highly infectious new coronavirus variant in people who recently travelled from Britain, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

The new variant of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2, VOC 202012/01), now spreading around the world, was first found in the UK and is more transmissible than the original variant of the virus first identified in China a year ago.