COVID19: Week of highs and lows as testing on the up

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Coronavirus cases crawled up again to 111, ending a week of highs and lows that saw the numbers drop below the 100-marker to 81 on Tuesday, with patient numbers dropping in Cyprus where one person died of COVID-19 on Friday.

The health ministry said that a 75 year old woman, with underlying health issues, died at Nicosia General hospital. She was the 28th person in February, among 229 deaths since the pandemic started.

December and January remained the deadliest months on record with 76 each. Of these, 153 were men (67%) and 76 women, with an average age of 79 years.

The ministry said that 76 patients are currently being treated for COVID-19, of whom 22 are critical. This was down from 81 patients on Thursday and 21 in critical state.

There was significant increase in PCR and rapid tests on Friday, as many return for their repeat tests, maintaining a 20% minimum of staff at any business or organisation, including school, who need to be tested on a weekly basis.

In all, 37,325 tests were reported on Friday, mostly tested on the day, but including some 5,112 tests conduced by employer organisations at their workplace in the past ten days.

A total of 111 SARS-CoV-2 cases were diagnosed, increasing the total of all reported infections since last March to 33,046.

The positive cases were identified through contact tracing of known infections (48) and 44 from private rapid tests at labs and the free national testing programme.

Of these, 28 were mainly in Limassol, 5 in Nicosia and 5 in Larnaca, and one each in Paphos and Famagusta.

Some 575 tests of residents and staff at old people’s homes were all negative, as were 872 soldiers serving in the National Guard and 299 samples taken from passengers arriving at Larnaca airport. A further five persons who had arrived from the UK tested negative after spending seven days in quarantine in a local hotel and were release to return home for further isolation.


Limassol cases surge

Meanwhile, the health ministry said earlier in the day that Limassol’s surge in COVID-19 cases keeps Cyprus well above safety limits of transmission, preventing the lifting of lockdown measures quicker.

Although Cyprus’ epidemiological data has improved, the ministry’s surveillance report shows Limassol remains a grave concern for scientists.

The 14-day cumulative diagnosis rate for Cyprus dropped near the safety limit of 150 per 100,000 inhabitants, at 164.3 (down from 173); Limassol is still off-the-chart on 390.7, up from 336.3.

All other districts recorded a significant drop in figures, with Famagusta having the best 14-day cumulative diagnosis rate of 45 cases for every 100,000 (down from 104.3), followed by Paphos with 46.1 (down from 63.9).

Larnaca’s rate is 83.4, down from 121.5 per 100,000, and Nicosia stands at 83.4, down from 106.8.

“It appears that if the burden in Limassol were less, the epidemiological picture in Cyprus would have been better, and the country could fall into the “green” category (according to ECDC indicators). 

“This would contribute significantly to the faster lifting of more restrictive measures,” said the health ministry.