COVID19: Higher virus transmission within families, work

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Health authorities say contact tracers are finding greater transmission of coronavirus within families and workplaces compared to the first wave of infections, which could slow the easing of lockdown.

Following a meeting Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou held with scientists and the track and trace team, the ministry said according to findings, tracers observed an increase in the number of contacts declared by each positive case.

Compared to the first wave, tracers are now finding that each case has an average of seven to eight close contacts up from three to four people.

The Health Ministry’s COVID-19 track and trace team is extending investigations to include secondary contacts of positive cases, which is the contacts of contacts.

“Through this practice, positive cases were detected more quickly, without the loss of valuable time until people who are the link in the chain test positive,” the ministry said.

It noted that the increase in the number of contacts involves family members and work colleagues, raising suspicions that “there is complacency in workplaces.

“It would appear that hygiene protocols are not being faithfully adhered to as concerns socialisation of personnel at work, such as during breaks and non-implementation of personal protection measures”.

Tracing shows that compared to the first wave there is increased transmission of the virus among family members.

The findings are expected to slow the exit out of a second national lockdown introduced in January, as the government is not expected to increase home visit from the current four allowed at any one time.

On 8 February, home visits were relaxed to allow just four people, including children, to visit a household. Visitors can be relatives or friends.

Businesses are allowed to have up to 50% of their staff return to work on the condition they follow the weekly testing guideline.

Domestic helpers and self-employed such as plumbers, electricians, and gardeners must also get tested weekly.