Two elderly men died on Thursday as Cyprus reported a mild drop in new SARS-CoV-2 cases to 164, with the number of patients being treated also receding slightly at 184.
The improving trend prompted the Health Minister to say this may lead to some restrictions being eased at the end of the month when the current second lockdown expires.
Ignoring the worsening situation across Europe, businesses in Cyprus are pressuring the government to speed up the removal of some measures and allow shops, restaurants and bars to reopen the soonest.
Already, the government backtracked on the 15% limitation it imposed on the number of personnel allowed to return to work and on Wednesday raised the rate to 25%, while the cap was also raised from a maximum of 20 staff to 25.
After no deaths were reported on Wednesday, two men died on Thursday, aged 77 and 84, both with underlying health issues.
This raised the death toll for January to 55, catching up with December’s record 76, and the total since March now at 178.
On the other hand, while the number of patients being treated for COVID-19 dropped to 184 from 194 the day before, those who are critical only decreased from 60 to 58.
Some 60 infected with SARS-CoV-2 are being treated at the dedicated unit at Famagusta General, three less than Wednesday.
There were no patients admitted at the Makarios maternity hospital for the second day in a row, while the total number of infections since the pandemic started rose to 29,636.
Of the 164 new positive cases resulting from 11,170 tests, 56 were traced from contacts of existing infections, one was diagnosed from among 135 passengers tested upon arrival at Larnaca and Paphos airports, two were from migrant shelter camps and 65 from antigen rapid tests.
In an unchanged trend, the biggest number of positive results from the rapid tests were diagnosed in Limassol with 26, a further 14 in Larnaca, 10 in Nicosia, one in Paphos and none in Famagusta district.
Two more residents at old people’s homes in Nicosia and Limassol tested positive from 1,235 samples, as well as four new cases from 562 tests at industrial zones and four soldiers serving in the National Guard.
Gradual lifting of Lockdown II?
As epidemiological data improves after spiralling out of control in December, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said earlier in the day that Cyprus can plan the gradual lifting of the second lockdown to contain the coronavirus, encouraged by some, albeit slow progress in the vaccination programme.
Cyprus went into its second lockdown on January 10 after a roller coaster of cases peaked at 907 on December 29.
Encouraged by a drop in daily cases to under 200 for the fifth day, and positive test rates conducted remaining under 2%, some measures could be lifted when the lockdown ends on January 31, he said.
He cautioned, “the Health System is still under great pressure and the situation in the Intensive Care Units, although under control, remains particularly difficult”.
Provided that COVID data continues to improve over the next days, a gradual lifting of measures will commence from 1 February, according to the Minister.
“This is so that rebooting the economy can take place smoothly and effectively with the least possible problems,” said Ioannou, with media reports suggesting to keep the 9 pm curfew in place, while reopening retail shops.