COVID19: Cyprus faces third lockdown with near record 852 cases

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Cyprus reported a near-record 852 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, with some health officials pondering a third lockdown, as opposed to a further relaxation of measures, as some had hoped prior to the Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations on May 2.

The worst day on record in Cyprus was December 29, when 907 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 had been recorded, that resulted in the second lockdown on January 10.

With the number of new coronavirus infections clearly out of control and continuing to rise throughout this week, government officials are placing their bets on the vaccination programme, that will be offered to 51 and 52 year olds on Monday.

The health ministry said that three people died, raising the April death toll to 35, exceeding from Saturday the March figure of 30 deaths, and the to-date figure since the pandemic started now at 291.

All three were men, aged 62, 65 and 92, with only one of the three having received the first dose of a vaccine.

So far, 192 men have died (66%) and 99 women, with an average age of 78 years.

The number of patients who have been admitted for treatment in state hospitals rose by one from the previous day to 271, with the critical cases also rising, to 67 from 65 on Saturday and 63 on Friday.

Health officials have warned that hospitals are under tremendous pressure, and the 300-capacity level may be breached soon if public health protocols are not kept, and the vaccination programme is not speeded up.

The health ministry said in its daily Covid bulletin that 59,042 PCR and antigen rapid tests were conducted on Sunday, which based on the 852 new cases produced a test positivity rate of 1.44%, the highest in a week.

That raises the total of all infections since the pandemic started to 56,259.

Of the new cases, 151 were identified through contact tracing linked to known earlier infections, six tested positive from among 1,912 samples from passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports, and 150 were diagnosed from private lab and hospital tests.

A further 545 were diagnosed from the national rapid testing programme, of which 228 were in Nicosia (test positivity rate of 1.05%), followed by Limassol with 126 (0.88%), Larnaca with 117 and the highest positivity rate of 1.40%, Paphos with 41 (0.94) and Famagusta district with 21 (0.70%).

 

58,000 get both jabs

Meanwhile, the health ministry said that appointments platform will open on Monday for 51 and 52 year olds, with 16,000 slots available.

It said that up to Saturday, April 17, some 210,576 vaccination jabs had been dispensed.

Of these, 152,603 have received the first vaccine by AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna, and 57,973 have received their second jab.

The first batch of Johnson & Johnson’s ‘Janssen’ vaccines arrived during the past week, but their dispensation has been suspended, pending an investigation by the European Medicines Agency into rare cases of blood clotting, or thrombosis.

A similar concern of reactions to the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine prompted many to shun this vaccine, with the vast majority opting for the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, twice crashing the health ministry’s inoculation platform during the past two weeks.