Health Minister Costas Ioannou being briefed by doctors at Nicosia General hospital in March 2020

COVID19: New cases skyrocket to 420 on anniversary, admissions galloping up

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Coronavirus infections set a new weekly record on Tuesday, topping 420 and past the 384 last Thursday, while hospital officials are warning that admissions have doubled from the beginning of the month.

Tuesday was also the first anniversary of the initial two cases recorded on the island – a Cypriot man aged 25 who had returned from a trip to Milan, Italy and a 64-year-old doctor working at a state hospital in Nicosia who returned from a trip to the UK.

It was later reported that the doctor did not follow health protocols and returned to work, despite showing symptoms.

Meanwhile, the government, amid public pressure just two months before the next parliamentary elections, is contemplating relaxing further lockdown measures next week, despite warnings from scientific advisors and virologists.

This would include all gymnasium students back in class and the reopening of all bars, cafés and restaurants, while probably maintaining a 9pm curfew or later.

Lifting some of the measures in recent weeks allowed all shops to reopen and let most elementary and high school students back in class, which is believed to be the reason for the rapid spread of COVID-19.

Teacher and students over 12 years old are obliged to undergo the quick rapid test every week, provided by the state free of charge.

But the head of the Covid ward at Limassol General hospital, Andreas Costi, told state broadcaster CyBC on Tuesday evening that admissions have doubled, the average age has dropped significantly and many do not have underlying health issues, as was the case of most of the elderly admitted before.

Costi said that due to a bed shortage, he was sending patients to Nicosia General hospital.

He said that the patient admission on Friday alone were more than that of the whole of February.

The dedicated Covid clinic at Famagusta General hospital said that the youngest patient there is 17 years old, with the 10-12 daily admissions of new patients outnumbering those being discharged.

The Makarios maternity hospital in Nicosia said a 28-day-old infant girl afflicted with the coronavirus was well.

The health ministry said that 154 patients have been admitted in four state hospitals, of whom 29 are critical. This is up from 145 and 25, respectively, on Monday. Cyprus counts 200 beds in Covid wards.

The total number of all infections since the pandemic started has now reached 37,650.

No deaths were reported for the second consecutive day, maintaining the death toll since the pandemic started at 233. December and January were the worst months on record, with 76 deaths each, while 30 people died in February.


Test positive rate rises to 1.21%

A total of 34,799 tests were conducted, diagnosing the 420 new cases of SARS-CoV-2, for a positive test rate of 1.21%. This rate had ranged between 0.6% and 0.9% throughout February, when daily cases, too, were fewer, ranging from 100 to 200.

Some 95 of the new cases were diagnosed from contact tracing of known infections. Five tested positive among 400 passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports, and 16 resulted from other tests.

Of the rest, 222 were positive cases diagnosed by private lab rapid tests and the state programme of free testing. As has become the norm in recent months, Limassol accounted for most infections at 131, followed by 48 in Nicosia, 16 in Larnaca and 14 in Paphos.

Some 747 tests were conducted on staff and residents at retirement homes, all of which were negative.

Limassol also counts for most fines for breaking COVID-19 rules, with almost daily reports of bars and restaurants violating restrictions.

On Monday, eleven people were fined for breaking COVID-19 restrictions, after being caught by police officers celebrating a birthday at a Limassol home with fireworks during lockdown.

In total 21 people, eleven adults and 10 minors, aged between five and 10, were found celebrating the birthday of one of the children. CyBC said on Tuesday the host family was Russian.