Six people died of COVID-19 and 690 people were infected with coronavirus on Thursday, with the April death toll rising to 27 and nearing the March figure of 30.
The number of new infections is dangerously close to the 3-month high of 705 recorded a fortnight ago, on Friday April 2.
Three men died, aged 67, 68 and 82, and three women aged 71, 85 and 97, raising the death toll since the pandemic started to 283, with an average age of 78. Only two of the six had received their first vaccine and they all had underlying health issues.
The health ministry said that a record 251 patients are presently admitted in state hospitals, with 64 in a critical state, one more than Wednesday.
In all, 50,902 PCR and antigen rapid tests were conducted on Thursday, which, based on the 690 new cases generated a test positivity rate of 1.36%, the highest in recent weeks. A total of 53,944 cases of SARS-CoV-2 have been recorded during the past 13 months.
Thursday’s new cases included 136 identified through contact tracing, three tested positive from among 1,026 samples taken from passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports, and 164 resulted from private lab and hospital tests.
Some 387 were diagnosed from rapid tests of which 116 were in Nicosia (test positivity rate of (0.93%), 85 in Limassol (0.98%), 68 in Larnaca (1.26%), 19 in Paphos (0.59%) and 26 in Famagusta district (1.48%).
A further 34 were positive from 12,373 tests in high schools, elementary and special schools.
All of the 339 samples from staff and residents at retirement homes tested negative.
Government ministers get AZ vaccine
Earlier in the day, all of the Cabinet members who had not been vaccinated received their first jab, choosing the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, in a show of support, after the public shunned this brand over concerns about rarer cases of blood clotting.
“The minimal side effects observed cannot be an obstacle to mass vaccination that creates the prospects of herd immunity, and allows us the opportunity to restart the economy, for people to regain their freedom, to live a normal life,” President Nicos Anastasiades said at the State Fair vaccination centre.
Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides, away on diplomatic visit, will get vaccinated with AstraZeneca on Monday.
President Anastasiades was the first Cypriot to get vaccinated in December; he completed his vaccination in January.
He received two doses of the Pfizer jab, the only jab approved by the EU medicines regulator EMA at the time.