Cyprus reported four more coronavirus deaths on Tuesday and the number of hospital admissions dropped marginally below the 200-capacity level, as fewer people showed up for work amid a second lockdown to contain the virus.
Some 1,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine were expected to arrive late on Tuesday, a boost to confidence for recovery, as the inoculation programme with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is already well underway.
The Health Ministry said that four people died of COVID-19, all with underlying health issues.
They were three men, aged 60 to 91, and an 84-year-old woman, raising the death toll to 157. January has so far counted 34 deaths, fast catching up with the 76 reported in December, the worst month to date.
In all, 106 men have died so far and 51 women, with an average age of 80 years.
The number of patients currently admitted at the four main hospitals is 197, eight less than the day before, of whom 58 are critical.
This is down from the record 209 on Saturday, worrying the authorities that hospitals may not be able to cope. Less than a third of all the patients, or 61, are being treated at the Covid-reference clinic at Famagusta General Hospital.
A further 77 are at the Nicosia General hospital, 56 in Limassol and three at the Makarios children’s and maternity hospital in Nicosia.
With the number of patients exceeding the 200-bed capacity on Saturday, the hospitals’ operator OKYPY said that an additional wing is ready at Larnaca General hospital with about 30 beds.
The health ministry said that 13,231 tests were conducted, using the PCR molecular method and the less-accurate antigen rapid tests.
The number of new SARS-CoV-2 cases continued to decline for the 14th consecutive day, decreasing to 259. This raised the total of all infections since the pandemic started to 27,897.
Monday’s tally of new coronavirus cases dropped 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.
Of the new cases, 72 were traced as contacts from earlier infections, three were diagnosed from among 566 passengers tested at Larnaca and Paphos airports. All of the 108 passengers who had arrived from the UK seven days earlier and were re-tested to be allowed out of quarantine in local hotels were negative for COVID-19.
Also, of the 133 positive cases identified with the rapid tests, 40 were in Limassol, 31 in Nicosia, 29 in Larnaca, 15 in Paphos and two in Famagusta district.
Testing continues of private sector workers
With the second lockdown since March already underway, all civil servants were sent home, with the exception being those working in essential services.
In the private sector, only businesses that have no contact with the general public are allowed to operate from their premises, with 85% of their workforce working remotely from home.
The biggest number of employees allowed in the workplace is 20, while a minimum of three is also allowed where companies are small to medium-sized enterprises.
Tuesday also saw rapid tests targeting private sector workers, allowing for people to show up for free testing on their way to work or on their way home at the end of the day.
Some 39 workers at media companies all tested negative, three were positive from among 1,056 construction workers, as well as nine among 1,464 workers in industrial areas.
Of 999 public sector workers, three tested positive for COVID-19.