Cyprus announced one coronavirus death on Wednesday and a marginally higher 139 new cases of SARS-CoV-2, raising concerns whether the government’s plans to gradually relax lockdown measures had been premature.
‘Lockdown II’ was lifted on Monday, allowing 50% of staff to return to work, up from 25% in January, with nail and hair salons allowed to reopen, while nearly all schools will restart next Monday, February 8, together with the retail sector, allowing some 80,000 more workers back.
Earlier on Wednesday, the council of ministers said it was relaxing restrictions on social activities such as sports, while theatres and cinemas will also be allowed to reopen from Monday.
Due to improved epidemiological data, authorities will be allowing individuals to train in groups of up to five in open spaces, such as parks and beaches, while cinemas and theatres can host up to 50 people.
Wednesday’s death, a woman aged 79 with underlying health issues raised the COVID-19 death toll since the pandemic started to 203, with four so far in February and 76 each in December and January, the worst months to date.
While the number of patients admitted in hospitals seems to be receding, albeit at a very slow pace,
The health ministry said that the number of patients admitted in hospitals rose from 121 the day before to 126, but the critical patients dropped from 40 on Tuesday to 39.
A record 28,659 PCR and rapid tests were conducted, up from Sunday’s 28,364, as more people returning to work need a negative test result to be allowed back, while all businesses and organisations must ensure that at least 20% of their staff are tested every week.
Of these, 139 were diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2, up from 128 on Tuesday, raising the total infections from last March to 31,263.
Tracing contacts of known infections identified 43 new cases, while 65 positive results were diagnosed from the rapid tests.
These were mainly in Limassol (27 cases), followed by Nicosia (19), Larnaca (8), Famagusta (6) and Paphos with 2 new cases. Of 1,424 tests in old people’s homes, only one tested positive.
Self-isolation for passengers
Some 137 tests on passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports were all negative for COVID-19, as the government announced on Wednesday that from Saturday, people arriving from category A and B countries will have to self-isolate for three days and undertake a PCR test for coronavirus upon ending their quarantine.
Currently, passengers from category A destinations do not need to present a negative PCR test to gain entry, while those from category B countries require one but do not need to self-isolate.
Following concerns over new potent strains of coronavirus infiltrating Europe from the U.K. and South Africa, Cyprus health authorities have decided to step up measures for arrivals at the country’s airports.
Passengers arriving from Britain are quarantined for 7 days at local hotels and need to test on the last day to be allowed to return home for a few more days of self-isolation.