COVID19: Infections nearing week-high, despite vaccination progress

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New coronavirus infections topped 352 on Monday, nearing the week-high figure of 384, despite 100,000 people already vaccinated and 23,000 new inoculation slots expected on Tuesday.

On Sunday, new SARS-CoV-2 cases rose to 303, having receded from 384 on Thursday to 273 on Friday and 298 on Saturday, with the lifting of final lockdown measures, scheduled for March 16, possibly pushed back to the end of March.

The total number of all infections during the past 12 months is now 37,230.

The rise in new infections is widely attributed to more students retuning to school, relaxation in the retail sector and many people, particularly in Limassol, ignoring health and safety rules.

The health ministry said that another worrying factor is that the number of patients admitted to hospital also rose, reaching 145, nearly double the figure that had stabilised a fortnight ago.

Of these, 70 are at the Covid-reference clinic at Famagusta General hospital.

However, the number of critical patients seems to have stabilised, currently at 25, the same as the day before.

No deaths were reported, maintaining the death toll since the pandemic started in Cyprus a year ago at 233. December and January were the worst months on record, with 76 deaths each, while 30 people died in February.

The health ministry added that 40,891 PCR and rapid tests were conducted on Monday, significantly lower than the previous days, when it was decided that students and teachers would be subjected to weekly testing.

Some 100 of the new infections were diagnosed through contact tracing linked to earlier infections, while five were passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports who test positive, from a total 1,016 samples.

A further 22 were positive results from tests at labs and state hospitals, while 225 were diagnosed through the mass antigen rapid test programme, available free of charge to the general public.

Limassol maintains the lead of all infections with 126 positive rapid test results, followed by Nicosia (49), Paphos (16), Larnaca (10) and Famagusta (8).

About 825 tests at retirement homes were all negative.


Vaccinations reach the 67s

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout is moving onto people aged 67 and over as the health ministry announced that another 22,808 inoculation slots would go online from Tuesday.

As of Sunday, a total of 99,275 jabs had been administered, with 28,741 people having received both doses and 70,534 just the first dose.

Meanwhile, vaccinating people at high risk of illness is also expected to pick up over the next few days, aiming at 30,000 receiving their first jab before the end of the month.