COVID19: Cyprus virus control stable, go-ahead for AstraZeneca

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Cyprus reported one coronavirus death on Thursday, 103 new cases and a steady number of 94 patients hospitalised for COVID-19 treatment, as the health authorities gave the green light for the AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to elderly patients as well.

The World Health Organisation’s go-ahead for the vaccine to be used for all ages vindicated Cyprus health authorities’ decision to use AstraZeneca on the elderly.

The vaccine should be given in two doses with an interval of 8 to 12 weeks.

According to WHO, it is safe and effective and should be deployed widely, including in countries where the South African 501Y.V2 variant of coronavirus may reduce its efficacy.

That decision was initially contested by the Cyprus Medical Association (Cyma) that challenged government policy to give the Oxford jab to people older than 65.

The first batch of vaccines from AstraZeneca arrived in Cyprus earlier this week, allowing the Health Ministry to vaccinate over 75-year-olds and health workers by the end of the month.

Upon the recommendation of its COVID-19 committee, the ministry will administer the second dose of the vaccine in the twelfth week as it is proven to be effective then.

Thursday’s death, a 75-year-old woman with underlying health issues, raised the death toll since the pandemic started to 218. February has so far accounted for 19, with December and January the worst months on record, with 76 each.

The number of coronavirus patients dropped by one from the day before to 94, with the critical cases unchanged at 35.

A total of 25,971 tests were conducted on Thursday, similar to Wednesday, but far less than the 40,974 on Sunday, the eve of easing more lockdown measures, that included the reopening of retail shops and most schools on Monday.


103 new cases

In all, 103 new SARS-CoV-2 cases were diagnosed, ten less than a day earlier, raising the total since last March to 32,175.

The health ministry said that 1,453 PCR molecular tests were conducted and 24,518 antigen rapid tests, the latter being the free national testing programme, with a certificate issued within 30 minutes of testing, mandatory for people to be allowed back to work.

Lifting most of the lockdown measures imposed on January 10, the government said that about 20% of staff at all workplaces need to be tested every week.

From the tests, 25 were identified through contact tracing linked to earlier infections, one tested positive from 182 samples taken from passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports, one was positive among 18 tests on national volleyball and basketball players, and 55 were diagnosed from the national rapid test programme.

Of the latter, some 36 infections were in Limassol, 8 in Nicosia, 3 in Larnaca and 1 in Paphos.

Testing also continued at old peoples’ homes with 773 samples all negative for COVID-19.