COVID19: As daily cases rise, tightening of restrictions possible

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Cyprus health authorities are far from optimistic in their efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus, with government advisors saying that any relaxation of measures in the next few weeks should be pushed back, possibly even introducing stricter measures.

Discouraged from the rise of daily cases in recent days, combined with a record number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals, authorities expect the situation to get worse.

Following a record 251 hospitalisations, six deaths and 690 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the head of the health minister’s office Anastasia Anthousi urged the public to abide by health protocols, while arguing that the ministry’s vaccination is the only way out of the pandemic.

“Deaths have been recorded in people who have not been vaccinated despite the portal opening for their age group,” Anthousi told CyBC state radio on Friday morning.

Four out of the people who died on Thursday were unvaccinated, while two of them had only received the first dose of a coronavirus jab.

Asked why patients with one dose are developing serious symptoms, Anthousi said, “experts suggest that resistance to the virus is built up two weeks after the second dose”.

She said that the 8,000 COVID cases recorded in the last two weeks is an alarming number and a grave indication of the strain on the health care system and pressure that hospitals constantly face.

Meanwhile, some relaxations of measures had been considered during the Easter period, which coincides with the expiration of current decrees at the end of April.

However, government advisor and virologist Dr Peter Karayiannis said that there might be talk of tightening measures and any decision will be announced next week.

“If we are not careful, sooner or later things will take a swing for the worse and instead of talking about lifting measures, we will probably be forced at some point to discuss the implementation of new ones,” Karayiannis told the Cyprus News Agency.


Patient numbers a strain on hospitals

Appearing pessimistic over the rise in new cases, Karayiannis said he does not expect the situation to improve, but hopes it will stabilise, rather than worsen.

The virologist said that he was afraid of the pressure on the health system as patients “have increased to the highest number we have had so far.”

Of the 251 patients announced on Thursday, 63 were in serious condition including 39 being treated in intensive care units. The average age of patients is 59.

Cyprus hospitals can cater up to some 300 coronavirus patients.

“Hence an upsurge of the daily tally this week will translate to hospitalisations in seven to ten days, possibly surpassing the hospitals’ full capacity”.

Karayiannis fears that hospitals’ ICUs will reach their limits in the next few days.

Blaming the rise in infections on the virus’ new variants, the government advisor echoed the ministry’s calls to strictly abide by health protocols.