COVID19: New cases rise to 324, UK variant spreads

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Cyprus recorded an increase in new coronavirus cases on Thursday, rising to 324 from 293 the day before, with a smaller test sample due to the public holiday resulting in a higher test positivity rate.

This raised the total number of infections during the past twelve months to 43,610.

The health ministry said in its daily bulletin that there were no deaths attributed to COVID-19, keeping the death toll since the pandemic started at 248.

The number patients currently admitted in six state hospitals also dropped, from 211 to 196, however the number of critical cases rose to 51, up from 47 on Wednesday and 50 on Tuesday.

The 324 new SARS-CoV-2 cases were diagnosed from a lower-than-average total of 21,300 tests, resulting in a test positivity rate of 1.52%, the highest in recent days. Some health officials attributed the rise to the lack of controls during the carnival celebrations last week.

After some 37,500 PCR and rapid tests on Wednesday, the ratio of new infections to test numbers generated a positive test rate of 0.78%, less than the 0.99% recorded on Tuesday and 0.95% on Monday.

The new diagnosed cases included 122 identified through contact tracing linked to earlier infections, 61 from private and state hospital lab tests, and 141 from antigen rapid tests. Of these, 80 were in Limassol, 25 in Nicosia, 15 in Famagusta district, 13 in Larnaca and five in Paphos.


UK variant widely spread in Limassol

Limassol also seems to be the epicentre of the spread of the more potent ‘UK variant’ of SARS-CoV-2, according to the health ministry.

It said earlier Thursday that the ‘UK variant’ caused nearly 40% of cases as another 45 positive samples sent to the EU were found infected with it.

Out of the 45 infections detected to have the UK variant, 44 were from Limassol (from 73 samples) and one from Paphos (5 samples).

According to scientists, the variant is more aggressive, 60% more transmissible and blamed for a spike in COVID-19 cases, especially in Limassol.