Six people died of COVID-19 on Wednesday, despite the steady drop in daily cases and hospital admissions, with January headed to become the worst months since the pandemic started.
Health authorities are confident that the delivery of the first batch of vaccines from Moderna, as well as the approval and anticipated arrival of doses from AstraZeneca, will speed up inoculations.
The national programme with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine already underway aims for frontline health workers, elderly over 80 years and vulnerable people to get the jab by the end of January, the 75 year olds by February and about 40% of the greater population by June.
Five women, aged 28 to 91, and a 78-year-old man raised the death toll to 163, with 40 of those in January alone, catching up with December that recorded 76 deaths.
The 28 year old woman, a resident of the Nea Eleousa home, is the youngest person to die of the coronavirus, lowering the average age from 80 to 79.5 years.
The health ministry said that 198 patients are currently admitted in the Covid-wards of four state hospitals, one more than the day before, but down from the record 209 on Saturday.
Some 59 patients are considered to be critical.
New cases drop to 227
The ministry added that 13,298 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, with 227 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 diagnosed. This raised the total since March to 28,124 infections.
The numbers continued to decline for the 15th consecutive day from the record 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 positive cases included 63 through tracing contacts of known infections, and 111 from the national programme antigen rapid tests. Of these, 31 were identified in Limassol, 28 in Nicosia, 23 in Larnaca, 7 in Famagusta district and 3 in Paphos.
A further 10 were diagnosed in old people’s homes and 7 from mobile testing centres set up near industrial areas where people in some sectors continue to work.