Cyprus saw a small drop in new coronavirus cases on Monday, dropping to 822 from Sunday’s 852, which had been the second worst day on record since the 907 on December 29.
However, three people died of COVID-19 and the admitted number of patients continued to rise to 284, dangerously nearing the national health system’s 300-bed capacity.
None of the three who died – a 58-year-old man and an 82 year old, as well as a 64 year old woman – had been vaccinated. This raised the death toll for April to 38 and to 294 since the pandemic started.
Of the record 284 cases who have been hospitalised, 68 are critical, one more than Sunday.
The health ministry said that 59,766 tests were conducted on Monday, which, based on the 822 new cases of SARS-CoV-2, resulted in a test positivity rate of 1.38%, slightly lower than Sunday’s 1.44%, but still far above the risk level of 1.00%.
During the past 13 months, Cyprus has had 57,081 infections.
Some 123 of the positive test results were identified through contact tracing, 10 were passengers tested upon arrival at Larnaca and Paphos airports, and 90 were diagnosed from private lab and hospital tests.
A further 599 were diagnosed from the antigen rapid tests, of whom 181 were in Limassol (test positivity rate of 1.77%), 169 were in Nicosia (1.09%), 90 in Larnaca (1.36%), 29 in Paphos (0.81%) and 23 in Famagusta district (0.96%).
Whereas retirement homes seemed to enjoy low infections rates due to better care and keeping to strict health protocols, 20 new cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed among 1,078 samples from staff and residents, while 31 students and teachers tested positive from 10,003 samples in gymnasium high schools.
Restrictions in place to May 15
Earlier in the day, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said the government has decided to keep lockdown restrictions in place at least until May 15, with the decision to be ratified on Wednesday by the cabinet.
However, he ruled out tightening measures as “no one wants the repeated disruption of the economy”, as the country’s health system is buckling under pressure from the recent upsurge of new cases.
Hopes the government would relax measures ahead of the Greek Orthodox Easter on May 2, as originally hoped, were diffused as Cyprus went close to breaking a new daily record on Sunday with 852 COVID-19 cases.
Ioannou said there had been very low public compliance with COVID protocols, while the tracing process shows that contacts of confirmed coronavirus cases do not self-isolate.
He urged the public to be patient as Cyprus’ vaccination rollout gathers pace.
The government’s target is to vaccinate 70% of the population by the end of June.
So far just 7% of the population has been fully vaccinated, while only 20% have received one vaccine dose.