Cyprus reported one death from COVID-19 on Monday and an increase in new cases to 131, with the number of patients dropping slightly to 76, but the critical cases rising again to 26.
The health ministry said that an 89 year old man, with underlying health issues, died at the Covid ward at Limassol General hospital, raising the death toll since the pandemic started to 230.
This followed two days of reporting no deaths.
The latest death raised the total to 29 for February.
December and January remained the deadliest months on record with 76 each. Of these, 154 were men (67%) and 76 women, with an average age of 79 years.
The ministry said that 76 patients were being treated in four state hospitals, down from 81 on Sunday and 77 on Saturday. However, the critical cases rose to 26, from 24 on Sunday and 22 on Saturday.
For the fourth day in a row, more than 30,000 tests were held throughout Cyprus, with 34,190 samples from the PCR molecular method and the antigen rapid tests.
As a result, 131 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 were diagnosed on Monday, rising well above the near-100 level recorded throughout the past week, the only exception being Tuesday when it dropped to two-digits.
This raised the total infections since last March to 33,391.
Of these, 34 were traced through primary contacts of earlier infections, with one more identified through secondary contact tracing.
After a lull of several days, six new cases were diagnosed from 899 samples taken from passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports.
A further 75 new cases were identified from the national rapid test programme – 44 of these were in Limassol, 20 in Nicosia and 9 in Larnaca.
All 786 tests of residents and staff at retirement homes were negative for COVID-19, as were 760 tests among soldiers serving in the National Guard.
Chain of contacts on the rise
Earlier in the day, the health ministry said that contact tracers are finding greater transmission of the coronavirus within families and workplaces compared to the first wave of infections, which could slow the easing of lockdown measures.
It said that 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 the initial 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 regards socialising of personnel at work, such as during breaks and non-implementation of personal protection measures”.