COVID19: Fewer cases, more patients, as Cyprus suspends Janssen

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Cyprus reported a small drop in new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, but patient admissions increased and three people died, as the health ministry also said it was suspending inoculations using the Janssen vaccine.

Three people died, all in their 80s, according to the daily Covid bulletin, raising the April death toll to 21 and 277 since the pandemic started.

The health ministry said that two were male, aged 80 and 85, and an 87 year old woman, all with underlying health issues and all of whom had not been vaccinated.

To date, 183 have been men (66%) and 94 women, with an average age of 78.

The number of hospital admissions continued to rise, reaching a new high of 232 patients, up from 228 the day before, of whom 63 are in a critical state, unchanged since Tuesday.

Some 50,287 PCR and antigen rapid tests were conducted, which based on the 602 new cases of SARS-CoV-2, generated a test positivity rate of 1.20%, marginally down from Tuesday’s 1.21%, but still significantly higher than the benchmark 1.00%.

In all, Cyprus has had 53,254 infections during the past 13 months.

About 120 were diagnosed through contact tracing, 172 from private lab and hospital tests, and 310 were identified from the national rapid testing programme.

Of these, 92 were in Limassol (test positivity rate 0.95%), 70 in Nicosia (0.59%), 59 in Larnaca (1.04%), 19 in Paphos (0.56%) and 12 in Famagusta district (0.59%).

Two tested positive from 544 test samples taken from residents and workers in retirement homes, three had COVID-19 among 439 pupils in elementary schools and 24 from 9,814 high school students.

All of the 437 samples taken from passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports were negative.


Janssen vaccinations suspended

The health ministry said that 2,400 single-dose vaccines from Johnson & Johnson have been put on hold following a recommendation by the manufacturer, as a precautionary measure in anticipation of the investigation into probable cases of thrombosis that were recorded in the U.S.

At the same time, health officials said that Cyprus may introduce age restrictions on AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 jab administration, following links to very rare blood clotting incidents.

As Europe’s drug regulator (EMA) continues to look into reports of rare blood clots linked to the vaccine, Health Ministry spokesperson Margarita Kyriakou, said one option is to introduce an age limit on the vaccine, much in the fashion of Greece and the UK that have prohibited the administration to people under the age of 30.

Kyriacou said the “ratio of people becoming ill from the AstraZeneca shot is infinitesimal compared to the other risks they face on a day-to-day basis”.

The matter was reportedly taken up by scientists working on Cyprus’ vaccination rollout during their ‘virtual’ meeting on Tuesday.

Scientists could suggest restricting the AstraZeneca jab to people under the age of 59, or even 40.

There is disagreement over other measures that should be taken.

Denmark on Wednesday become the first country to cease administering AstraZeneca entirely, with Bulgaria possibly doing the same.

In the US, infectious disease official Anthony Fauci indicated the jab might not be used.