Cyprus reported 622 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, dangerously approaching last Friday’s 3-month high of 705, after daily infections remained stubbornly above 400 throughout the week.
The health ministry said that two women died, aged 91 and 44, both with underlying health issues, the second day in a row of a patient in their 40s dying from COVID-19. A 42 year old man died on Wednesday with a serious heart condition who had not been vaccinated.
The 91 year old woman had received both doses of the vaccine, while the younger 44 year old woman had not been vaccinated.
This raised the death toll for April to 12 and the 13-month total to 268. The average age is 79 years.
The health ministry said in the daily Covid bulletin that 207 patients remain admitted in special wards at six state hospitals, three less than the day before, while the number of critical patients increased from 48 to 52.
It added that based on the 47,547 PCR and antigen rapid tests, the test positivity rate shot up to 1.31% from 1.12% on Wednesday and significantly higher than the 0.73% on Sunday.
The benchmark rate should be below 1.00%.
Infections approach 50,000
In all, 49,988 cases of SARS-CoV-2 have been recorded since the pandemic started.
Of the 622 new coronavirus cases, 126 were identified through contact tracing, two tested positive from among 847 samples taken from passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports, and 130 were diagnosed from private lab and hospital tests.
A further 364 were diagnosed from private rapid tests and the fere national testing programme.
Of these, 123 were in Nicosia with a test positivity rate of 1.06%, 95 were in Limassol (1.13%), 57 in Larnaca (1.16%), 19 in Paphos (0.61%) and 14 in Famagusta district (0.81%).
Three tested positive from 502 samples from staff and residents at retirement homes, and 19 had COVID-19 from 11,434 samples at schools.
Despite reactions from parents, teachers’ unions and the Ministry of Education, the Health Ministry said earlier on Thursday that schools will be shut down much faster under stricter contact tracing protocols, with entire classrooms considered close contacts if a student tests positive for COVID-19 after clusters were detected.
The health ministry policy change comes as the government is wear of easing lockdown measures and will also consider students to be close contacts if they were on the same bus as someone who tested positive.
If three classrooms are traced to be Covid-positive, the entire school will shut down.