Cyprus still faces the risk of a third wave of coronavirus, but the challenge is to avoid it by preventing widespread transmission of COVID-19 mutant strains, said government advisor Dr Peter Karayiannis.
“The risk is there for a third wave, of course. What causes uncertainty is the possibility of the spread of mutant strains,” the virology professor told CNA.
“The risk is there; we see what happened to other European countries. To avoid the third wave, we have to limit the domestic transmission of the virus. So, it is up to us to avoid it.”
One of the government’s main strategies to control the virus is mass antigen rapid tests for the workforce.
Karayiannis said the number of coronavirus cases is encouraging, although they went up again on Wednesday 121 from double digits the day before.
“We are in the second week after the relaxation of (lockdown) measures and by the end of this week, or beginning of next week, we should see if there was a problem due to these relaxations.”
Retail shops and primary schools have reopened as the first step in easing lockdown, but a curfew and restricted movement remain while hospitality venues are shut.
“Depending on the epidemiological picture, we should be able to proceed to further relaxation of measures soon.”
Karayiannis said the situation will normalise towards the spring and summer months when the weather will allow people to avoid indoor spaces.
Increasing the rate of vaccination coverage will also be of help.
He expressed hope that Johnson & Johnson, which submitted an EU application for approval, will soon be given authorisation so that another vaccine is at Cyprus’ disposal.
Fewer doses have been ordered from Johnson & Johnson but if the company has more stock then it is up to Brussels to increase the number of vaccines.