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COVID19: Lockdown could tighten at any time

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Cyprus could tighten COVID-19 lockdown measures at any time after the third wave stoked a record-high 941 daily infections, warned government scientists.

In comments to CyBC, Dr Maria Koliou, epidemiologists advising the government on handling the pandemic, said the surge in cases had stretched the healthcare system.

The COVID team of scientists met on Tuesday night and unanimously decided to keep measures in place over Easter.

She said that scientists might consent to allow a family to have up to four extra guests – from the current six -over Easter, on the condition they are relatives.

Scientists also favour allowing people to go to church for the midnight service on Holy Saturday but under strict protocols.

But virologist Dr Peter Karayiannis said he expects cases to hit four digits.

Referring to Cyprus’ record number of cases on Tuesday, he said this was expected as there was a steady increase over the past days.

“This is of great concern if we consider that a single case reports around 10 close contacts”, said Karayiannis.

He explained that even if two contacts of a known case test positive, “then we are talking about very high numbers”.

“We are most likely going to reach a thousand cases a day”.

Decisions on what measures should be in place over Easter will be taken at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

The health system is under strain as it struggles to cater for the ever-increasing number of patient admissions.

Hospital admissions have been steadily rising, with a new record set on Monday with 284 patients and 68 in a serious condition.

On Tuesday, COVID-19 patients dropped to 277, but still, 68 were critical.

The Famagusta General, assigned as the country’s COVID-19 referral hospital, has reached its limit while the other hospitals across the island are close to capacity.

Andreas Costi, head of Limassol General’s COVID ward, told CyBC the situation was “borderline.”

He said patients are left waiting 10 to 13 hours, usually in ambulances if they need oxygen or a short-term ward.

That has been the situation for the past three to four days, he said.

Health Minister Constantinos had given assurances that new measures would not be introduced despite daily cases spiking.

Ioannou did say no new relaxations would be introduced until 15 May, apart from churchgoers and home visits during the Easter weekend on 1-2 May.