Five deaths were attributed on Monday to COVID-19, as Cyprus entered its second lockdown phase since the pandemic started and another round of vaccination appointments was exhausted minutes after the portal opened.
All five who died – four men aged 70 to 89 and an 82 year old woman – had underlying health issues. One of them was the Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus.
This raised the death toll for January to 30 and 153 since the pandemic started, of whom 103 were men and 50 women. December remains the worst month to date with 76 deaths, but January is fast catching up.
The number of new coronavirus cases continued to decline, dropping to 288, having peaked at 907 on December 29. That prompted the government to impose a second lockdown that started on Sunday and will remain in place until the end of the month.
The total number of SARS-CoV-2 infections since March is now 27,638.
However, health officials are more concerned by the steady rise in hospital admissions, with 205 patients currently in care, of whom 58 are critical, the highest number so far.
This is down from the record 209 on Saturday, but the critical cases increased from 55 on Sunday. A third of all the patients, or 68, are being treated at the Covid-reference clinic at Famagusta General Hospital.
With the number of patients exceeding the 200-bed capacity on Saturday, the hospitals’ operator OKYPY said that an additional wing is being utilised at Larnaca General hospital with 30 beds.
Some 12,842 tests were carried out on Monday, using both the PCR molecular method and the less-accurate antigen rapid tests.
Of these, 52 were diagnosed after testing 266 people through contact tracing from earlier identified cases.
Also, 20 positive cases were diagnosed among 1,713 passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports.
At the same time, two of 112 passengers arriving from the United Kingdom who had been in government-paid quarantine at local hotels, tested positive on the seventh day of their stay and will remain in isolation.
Of the 170 positive cases from rapid tests, producing results within 30 minutes, 65 were in Limassol, 43 in Nicosia, 40 in Larnaca, 10 in Paphos and 8 in Famagusta district.
A further two cases were diagnosed in tests at old people’s homes in Nicosia and one was a soldier serving in the National Guard.
Senior cleric dies
A senior cleric died on Monday, having been diagnosed with COVID-19 early last month and was in hospital care since December 26.
Archimandrite Gregorios Mousouroulis, 70, had been the Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod for the past three years, according to a statement from the Archbishopric.
He was diagnosed with COVID-19 on December 17, was admitted to Nicosia General hospital on December 26 and due to his deteriorating condition was intubated on Saturday.
His death sparked fresh public debate on social media, many critical of some clergymen who object to wearing masks and other health measures, as well as the vaccination programme, that has prioritised elderly people above 80 and front-line health workers.
Archbishop Chrysostomos was among the first to be inoculated a week ago and has been critical of Covid-deniers.