COVID19: Cyprus cases slow down, workplace tests continue

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Cyprus reported three deaths on Sunday, a slowdown in new SARS-CoV-2 cases that dropped to 157 and 208 patients in Covid wards in local hospitals, an indication that the second lockdown imposed on January 10 is starting to pay off.

At the same time, the number of people who have been inoculated, primarily with the Pfizer-BioNTech jabs and a small number from Moderna surpassed 10,000, with the first people who were vaccinated expected to get their second dose this week, including President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday.

The three deaths announced by the Health Ministry were two men, aged 67 and 89, and an 83 year old woman.

The death toll since the pandemic started rose to 170, of whom 47 died in January, catching up with December that was the worst month to date and recorded 76 deaths.

The health ministry said that 157 new COVID-19 cases were diagnosed from among 7,056 samples taken from PCR molecular tests and antigen rapid tests. This was less than Saturday’s 202 and Friday’s 244, a number that has deteriorated from the record 907 announced on December 29.

The total number of infections since March has now reached 28,968.

However, the number of patients who have been admitted rose to 208, up 15 from Saturday, with the health ministry concerned that 57 remain in critical condition. This number was 59 on Saturday and 56 on Friday.

Some 65 are at the dedicated Covid-clinic at Famagusta General Hospital.

Sunday’s positive cases were attributed to 38 contacts traced to known infections, while 84 rapid tests were positive from 5,797 samples.

Of these, 38 were in Limassol, 28 in Nicosia, 16 in Larnaca, with none recorded in Paphos or Famagusta district. Two more were identified in old people’s homes in Nicosia.


A third of rapid tests target workplaces

The health ministry also announced that a third of the 47,241 rapid tests done during the week of January 11 of 15, or 14,509 in all, concerned workers in the private sector.

These were people employed in businesses or public organisations that did not suspend their operations because of ‘Lockdown II’ imposed on January 10, while all civil servants were sent home and told to work remotely.

The rapid tests, considered less-accurate than the molecular PCR method, diagnosed 27 cases of SARS-CoV-2, of which 17 were in industrial zones, 3 in businesses and 7 in the public sector (utilities, municipalities and essential services).

The ministry said that since the free national rapid test programme was introduced on November 16, so far 10,732 positive cases were reported from 420,988 tests, with a positivity rate of 2.55%.

This placed Cyprus second among 29 European countries for the number of tests conducted for COVID-19 per 100,000 of population, said the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

According to a ‘COVID-19 situation update for week 1 of 2021’ issued by the ECDC, Cyprus is in second place with an average of 7,181 tests per 100,000 over 14 days, behind Denmark which is performing 9,277 tests per 100,000.