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COVID19: Some measures may be lifted for Greek Easter

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With Greek Orthodox Easter two weeks away, government officials are concerned with an upsurge in daily COVID-19 cases, but the curfew will be relaxed to celebrate the religious holiday.

Cypriots will most likely be celebrating another under lockdown restrictions, as the government is ready to extend current measures until 15 May.

Last year, Cyprus celebrated Easter at home under the first lockdown.

According to the Cyprus News Agency, authorities are leaning towards extending restrictions for another two weeks when they end on 30 April with some Easter exemptions.

Exceptions may include extending the 11 pm curfew and an increased number of people allowed at home gatherings during the Easter weekend.

According to sources quoted by CNA, the curfew will only be extended on Easter Saturday, when people will be gathering at churches for the traditional midnight service.

Reportedly, scientists are pushing for measures to keep the number of churchgoers as low as possible, restricting them outside only.

As far as home visits are concerned, the Health Ministry is considering allowing up to 10 guests in homes on Easter Sunday, from the current limit of six.

Final decisions will be announced after Thursday’s cabinet meeting.

Decisions on the return to schools will only be taken after Easter Monday when there will be a clearer picture of the situation, particularly in hospitals and intensive care wards.

Meanwhile, health experts have raised the alarm over the high number of new daily COVID-19 cases, which have already put a strain on the health system.

Speaking to Sigma Live, advisor Zoe Dorothea Pana suggested that churches carry out their services outdoors, to minimise the risk of the virus spreading.

“At this stage, whether we are in church or elsewhere, we need to protect ourselves,” she said.

“That is why I think it will be better if people gather at churches outside rather than inside so that we can all keep more distance between ourselves and we do not risk cases increasing during the holidays.”

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.

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.