COVID19: Government dithers over what to do next

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The Cabinet has delayed any decision on stricter COVID-19 measures until Friday, with the Health Minister reportedly proposing a new lockdown as daily cases remain stubbornly above 800.

Ministers are undecided on the next steps before Greek Orthodox Easter as COVID-19 cases are at record highs putting hospitals under pressure.

Reportedly, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou has tabled a proposal for an island-wide lockdown; at best, Cyprus could be seeing current measures tighten.

Deputy spokesperson Panayiotis Sentonas said Thursday the Cabinet postponed taking decisions after Ioannou briefed ministers.

He said final decisions would be taken on Friday after President Nicos Anastasiades consults with scientists on Thursday evening.

Sentonas said that President Anastasiades is to hear epidemiologists’ views on the spread of the virus, which has taken a turn for the worse in recent days.

“During tomorrow’s National Council, the President will brief political leaders about the epidemiological situation in the country and listen to their views,” Sentonas said.

Following the National Council, Anastasiades meets his ministers at 11.30 am when final decisions are taken.

With daily COVID-19 cases stubbornly above 800, reaching a record of 941 on Tuesday, the health system has come under enormous pressure.

Wednesday saw a record 291 people treated in state hospitals, 71 of whom are in a serious condition.

Health unions have urged the government to take stricter measures, openly asking authorities to impose a short-term lockdown, arguing the health system has reached capacity.

Medical staff at Limassol General said COVID-19 patients were being treated in ambulances and in hallways due to the lack of beds.

The hospital administration authority, OKYPY, said national bed capacity had been increased to 400 from the 300 and another 65 intensive care beds.

Authorities reported on Wednesday 843 new coronavirus cases (positivity rate 1.59%), bringing the total number since the pandemic to 58,865.