COVID19: Cyprus hit by ‘unexpected’ third wave

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Authorities are struggling to cope with an increase in daily COVID-19 cases after being hit with an unforeseen third wave of coronavirus fuelled by the UK variant affecting younger people.

Eirini Christaki, a scientist advising the government on the pandemic, said Cyprus is unexpectedly hit by a third wave of COVID-19 infections, affecting younger people.

She told state broadcaster CyBC that the increase in new cases is attributed to the UK variant of the coronavirus predominant in the community.

“The UK variant, which is more contagious and aggressive, combined with citizens not abiding by health protocols, has led to increased daily cases.

“As a result, we are now seeing younger people needing hospital care,” said Christaki.

She argued the only way out of the coronavirus pandemic is vaccinations.

On Monday, health authorities announced another 822 COVID-19 cases, following Sunday’s 852.

Since the pandemic started in March 2020, infections number 57,081, while another three more deaths took fatalities to 294.

On Tuesday, Famagusta General, assigned as the referral hospital for coronavirus, announced it had reached 100% capacity with 75 patients, of which eight are in the Acute Care Unit.

Dr Peter Karayiannis, another government advisor, said the picture looks grim.

“Whether we are looking at a third wave, or just an upsurge of the previous wave, the truth of the matter is that we are recording more cases than ever before,” Karayiannis told the Financial Mirror.

He said epidemiologists hope the virus will come under control soon, as the health system cannot hold out for much longer.

COVID-19 patients in hospitals have reached a record 284, with 68 in a serious condition.

“It has become apparent that people are no longer abiding by health protocols.

“We need to pull ourselves together, at least for a few more weeks, to give the country’s vaccination rollout enough time to start achieving results,” said Karayiannis.

He said around 30-35% of the population needs to receive both shots of a COVID-19 vaccine to reach safe immunity levels.

Cyprus is currently at less than 10% of those completely vaccinated.

“We hope that if health authorities reduce the interval between the two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from 12 weeks to eight, then the vaccination rollout will gather speed in the coming days.”

AstraZeneca’s jab started being administrated in Cyprus in mid-January, with the first people who received the vaccine set to receive their second shot.

“But vaccines alone are not enough to contain the virus. People will have to abide by health protocols at least for a little longer.”