Cyprus reported two deaths, 164 patients admitted for coronavirus treatment and 126 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 on Monday, a number that may spike after hundreds defied lockdown restrictions and headed to the snow-capped mountains over the weekend.
As Cyprus enters the final week of lockdown II to contain COVID-19, authorities are drafting a roadmap for a slow, gradual unlocking of the economy, as scientists remain wary.
Scientists advising the government on handling the outbreak, met President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday to present the latest data on the spread of coronavirus, making proposals for a gradual lifting of restrictions.
However, Dr Nikolas Dietis, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Cyprus Medical School, called people gathering en masse at Troodos square as a potential ‘super spreader event’.
Virologist Dr Peter Karayiannis also expressed grave concern over people gathering in the mountains to enjoy the snowy scenery, allegedly to exercise.
Thousands submitted the code ‘6’ to the government’s information platform, receiving the SMS confirmation allowing one of two exits per day, supposedly for exercise.
Inundated by the heavy traffic, helpless police stood by allowing motorists through to Troodos.
Karayiannis said that pictures of crowds at the highest mountain square made scientists feel uncomfortable about recommending easing lockdown.
“If it were summer, I wouldn’t mind. But being winter, with people staying in closed spaces on their return, those who may have been infected at Troodos will pass on the virus to others,” Karayiannis said.
2 deaths had no underlying issues
The health ministry said that two men who died were aged 60 and 69. However, health officials are concerned that neither had underlying medical conditions.
This raised the death toll for January to 65, closing in fast on December’s record 76, with a total 188 to date.
Some 75% of all deaths in the past year were recorded in December and January.
The health ministry also said that 164 patients are currently admitted in four state hospitals, of whom 52 are critical.
Sunday’s number was 173 and 55 critical, and 174 on Saturday.
In all, 12,805 PCR and rapid tests produced 126 positive cases of COVID-19 on Monday, raising the total of all infections since last March to 30,143.
Of these, 25 were traced through existing contacts, while 79 more were diagnosed from the national antigen rapid testing programme – 35 in Limassol, 22 in Nicosia, 6 in Larnaca, 6 in Famagusta district and 4 in Paphos.
Meanwhile, the health ministry said that 492 samples taken from passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports were all negative, as were three passengers from the U.K. who had been in quarantine in local hotels and tested on their seventh day, now headed home into self-isolation.