COVID19: Virus infection rate stable as Cyprus mulls lockdown

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The number of new coronavirus cases, hospital admissions and death rate seems to be tapering off, as the government is considering imposing a lockdown or similar measures to arrest the situation that peaked at the end of December.

Cyprus reported one death on Tuesday, 569 new SARS-CoV-2 cases and 179 patients being treated at state hospitals.

The Cabinet will take its final decision on Thursday, with President Anastasiades briefed by his health advisors on Tuesday on the options available on how best to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the COVID scientific advisory team met the Health Minister with the authorities leaning towards instructing people to stay at home once more.

In the March lockdown, people could leave their homes once a day after receiving approval from the authorities through an SMS system.

When the lockdown was eased in May people were allowed to leave their homes three times a day. Both options are said to be on the table.

Reportedly, ministers 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.

The Health Ministry said that an 84-year-old woman, with underlying health issues, died of the coronavirus. She was being treated at the Covid-reference clinic at Famagusta General hospital, where 62 other patients are also being treated.

This raised the death toll for January to nine and to 134 since the pandemic started. December was the worst month since March with 76 deaths.

The number of patients admitted for treatment was 179, down one from Monday, of whom 50 are in a critical state, one less than the day before.

The health ministry said that 14,309 tests were conducted on Tuesday, with 569 new cases of SARS-CoV-2. This puts the number of all Covid-diagnosed cases since March at 25,208.

Contact tracing identified 151 new cases, while four passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports tested positive using the PCR molecular method.

Of the 10,889 antigen rapid tests, 356 were positive. These were in Nicosia (129), Larnaca (92), Limassol (82), Famagusta (27) and Paphos (20). Two more tested positive in old people’s homes in Nicosia and Larnaca, as well as four soldiers serving in the National Guard.


158 passengers from UK leave quarantine

Meanwhile, the health ministry said that 158 people arriving from the U.K., who were reached the seventh day of quarantine at local hotels, paid for by the government, tested negative.

The health ministry said on Monday the country’s Institute of Neurology and Genetics identified the variant VOC 202012/01 in one of 24 samples collected from individuals who had contracted COVID-19 locally in the last week of December.

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 up to 70% more transmissible than the original variant of the virus first identified in China a year ago.

The ministry said due to the small number of samples, it’s unclear how widespread the variant is within the community and more checks are required to determine the extent to which the new strain has spread across the island.

On Sunday, the new variant had been identified in 12 of 19 samples from COVID-19 infected people who had arrived in Cyprus from the UK between December 6 and 20.

Cyprus has renewed an obligatory seven-day quarantine for all passengers arriving from the U.K., to prevent the spread of a virulent new strain of coronavirus found there

The decree issued on December 21 is extended to January 10.

All arrivals from the UK are tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at Larnaca and Paphos airports, after which they are transferred to local hotels.

On the last day, they are tested again and if the result is negative for SARS-CoV-2 and the new strain they are allowed to leave but remain in home isolation for a further three days.