COVID19: Virus situation critical despite cases drop

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The spread of COVID-19 is not yet under control with the situation remaining critical despite a recent improvement, scientists said on Thursday.

Lead scientist advising the government on the coronavirus outbreak, Dr Constantinos Tsioutis, said that numbers of new daily cases are dropping, evidence that measures taken in December have paid off.

In December, authorities had banned house visits while closing shopping malls and hospitality, a national lockdown followed on January 10.

“However, we do expect to see hospital admissions rise as a result of high numbers of infections being reported in the past days,” said Tsioutis.

He said the elderly still have the highest risk of developing serious symptoms of the disease, despite Cyprus unrolling its vaccination program.

Immunity from vaccinations is achieved a week after the second dose which is administrated three weeks after the first one.

Asked whether it is downhill from now on regarding daily COVID-19 cases, Tsioutis stressed that it is too early to come to conclusions.

“We should not expect cases to drop to zero. Our target is to bring down cases to the extent we can slowly and gradually lift measures in place.”

Tsioutis said more than once that the process of lifting measures will be a slow procedure, much like the one followed after the first lockdown imposed in March.

He explained that the philosophy behind measures imposed is to limit gatherings at households and workplaces, as it has been proven that many infectious were a result of such contacts.

State hospitals’ operator OKYPY, CEO Christis Loizides, said the situation is still manageable, refuting claims that hospitals are on the verge of collapse.

“At the moment, there are 200 COVID-19 patients being treated at hospitals. If things get worse, the health service is ready to implement a plan to send other inpatients without COVID-19 to private clinics for treatment.

“I want to assure you that public hospitals have the capacity to cope with this unprecedented situation,” said Loizides.

He said the main concern since day one of the pandemic, was to not to exceed the number of patients with COVID-19 that could be handled by the health system.

“However, the public health system has its limits. In the case where these limits are reached, then OKYPY will concentrate all its infrastructure and human resources on coping with the pandemic.”

Representing the ministry’s advisory team on the vaccination rollout, Dr Christos Petrou said the inoculation program is running smoothly, with Cyprus ranked 8 for the percentage of the population already vaccinated.

According to the latest data provided by officials, 6,035 people, mainly elderly residents of nursing homes and health workers have been vaccinated.

The national programme already underway aims for frontline health workers, the over 80s and vulnerable people to get the jab by the end of January, 75-year-olds by February and about 40% of the general population by June.

Cyprus on Wednesday reported 227 new COVID-19 cases, following a downward trend after the virus went unchecked for two months with cases peaking at 907 on 29 December.

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 month since the pandemic started.

Total COVID-19 cases reported in Cyprus since March are 28,124 infections and 163 deaths.