COVID19: Six die, cases drop as Lockdown II looms

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Although cases dropped on Saturday to 337, six people died of coronavirus while hospitals went beyond the 200-bed capacity for COVID patients on the eve of Cyprus going into lockdown.

Saturday’s 337 cases were much lower than the 466 SARS-CoV-2 infections diagnosed the previous day with the total since the pandemic rising to 27,011.

Lockdown II begins at dawn on Sunday after recent restrictions failed to control the virus and to protect the health service.

Cypriots will have to stay indoors until January 31.

People will only be allowed out twice a day for essential travel or exercise. while all non-vital businesses will close. Unlike the first lockdown in March, the airports and ports will remain open.

Daily cases have gradually declined after peaking at a critical 907 on December 29 but they are still considered too high to contain the spread of the virus.

But on Saturday the number of patients in hospitals reached 209 with 53 in a serious condition – the bed capacity for COVID-19 patients was set at 200.

According to the Health Ministry, the three men and three women who died of COVID-19 all had underlying health issues and were aged between 60 to 89.

These raised the death toll in January to 24 and 147 to date with an average age of 80.

December remains the deadliest month with 76 deaths.

Most patients have been admitted to Nicosia (80) and Famagusta General Hospital (70).

The Health Ministry said that 11,521 tests were conducted on Saturday, both with the PCR molecular method and the less-accurate antigen rapid tests.

Of the 337 new cases, 106 were identified by tracing known contacts of previous infections. Three were passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports.

All arrivals from the UK, where a severe strain of the coronavirus has spread, are quarantined in local hotels.

Of the 158 diagnosed with rapid tests, 69 were in Limassol, 44 in Nicosia, 21 in Larnaca, 9 in Famagusta and 14 in Paphos.

Limassol had the highest rate of positive rapid tests with 3.88% followed by Paphos on 1.79%.