COVID19: Experts encouraged by drop in cases

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Following Cyprus’ success in bringing daily COVID-19 cases down to double-digit numbers after spiralling to almost 1000, experts expect to see infections dropping even further, but called for vigilance.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, Dr Peter Karayiannis, Professor of Virology at the University of Nicosia Medical School, said scientists are encouraged by Tuesday’s results as it was the first-time cases dropped to double digits in 4 months.

Cyprus has not reported double-digit cases since 26 October, except for Christmas and Boxing days, when 50 and 25 cases respectively were announced following a very small number of tests carried out.

On 29 December health authorities reported a record 907 cases.

Karayiannis said that scientists hoped to see epidemiological data improve, despite authorities easing lockdown in allowing retail shops to reopen and the majority of school children to return to class.

“Rapid testing will help keep a lid on cases, as we will be able to spot any outbreaks promptly while the vaccination program is being carried out, protecting the elderly.”

Karayiannis said Cyprus can enjoy more freedoms if epidemiological data continues to remain the same or improve.

“But we will have to remain vigilant keeping in mind that the UK variant is now circulating in Europe, which is more easily transmitted and may cause more deaths.”

The UK strain has been found in Cyprus, but authorities do not have a clear picture on whether it was behind the outbreak at Christmas.

Asked when Cypriots to return to some sort of normality, Karayiannis said it depends on the vaccination program and whether vaccines will be able to fight off the new COVID variants.

“Apparently the new variant originating from South Africa is not recognised by the antibodies created by the existing vaccines.”

Commenting on the AstraZeneca vaccine arriving in Cyprus, he said the vaccine had been administrated to older people for a good two months now with data indicating the efficacy of up to 85%.

On Wednesday, despite the improvement in epidemiological data, authorities extended the national lockdown until March, after allowing some easing of restrictions in the last week.