Cyprus reported 95 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, a number not seen in four months, with the number of patients being treated for COVID-19 also dropping below the hundred mark to 96.
With new daily infections numbering 20 to 30 up until last August, those figures started to rise dramatically in September and October, peaking at 907 on December 29.
December and January also had the highest death toll, accounting for 76 deaths each month of the 214 to date. No deaths were announced on Tuesday.
All elementary pupils and high school graduating students were back in class this week in the second stage of a lockdown easing that also included retail shops and malls re-opening, together with cinemas and theatres.
Restaurants, cafés and bars are not scheduled to re-open at this stage.
Last week, the number of employees allowed back to work increased to 50% of the workforce, hair and nail salon reopened, as civil servants also trickled back to their posts. However, the government imposed a mandatory negative rapid test result of all those returning this week, including all teachers, with daily tests reaching 35,000 to 40,000.
With nearly a quarter of the population tested throughout last week, the number of PCR and antigen rapid tests dropped significantly to 34,739 on Monday from the record 40,974 on Sunday.
On Tuesday, the total number of tests dropped further to 25,427 as employers must now ensure that at least 20% of their workforce has a negative rapid test result. This is also valid for public sector workers.
The health ministry said that 95 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 were diagnosed on Tuesday, with 94 cases last reported on October 16. Of the new cases, 35 were in a critical state, unchanged from Monday.
The total number of infections since the pandemic started last March is now 31,959.
Contact tracing continues to be the primary method of controlling the virus spread, with 24 of the new cases linked to earlier infections, while 53 were identified through private rapid tests and the free national rapid testing programme that continues.
Limassol remains in the lead with most cases, at 35, with 7 new coronavirus cases diagnosed in Nicosia, 3 in Larnaca and 1 in Famagusta district. No new cases were reported in Paphos.
Some 130 samples taken from passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports all tested negative, as did 52 tests on passengers who had arrived from the U.K. and remained in quarantine for seven days. A further 801 tests at old people’s homes were also all negative, as were 512 samples taken at the Ergates industrial zone.
Turkish Cypriot face new wave
As the situation seems to be improving in the Republic, where vaccination programmes are also underway, the Turkish Cypriot authorities are facing a new eruption of coronavirus cases, after 16 out of 20 COVID-19 positive samples submitted for further testing were found to carry the UK variant of the coronavirus.
Turkish Cypriot health officials expect cases and hospitalisations to increase by mid-February as a result of the new strain found in the north.
The COVID-19 caseload in the north is nearly 3,000.
Last week, Turkish Cypriot authorities reported two more deaths taking COVID-19 related losses to 16.
In February so far, the Turkish Cypriot community has reported nearly 600 cases closing in on January’s record of 751.