COVID19: Five deaths as patient admissions drop

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Cyprus reported five coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, following Monday’s record seven, with the number of patient admissions dropping slightly to 263 and the new cases of COVID-19 infections stabilising at 509.

Four men died, aged 56 to 81, and a 64 year old woman, with only two having been inoculated with the first dose pf the COVID-19 vaccine.

This raised the death toll for May to 14 and 326 to date with the average age marginally reduced to 77.8 years from 78 years before.

Hospitals’ operator OKYPY spokesman Charis Charilaou said on CyBC radio on Tuesday that with the admissions ‘stable’ at 275 patients the previous day and the worrying number of coronavirus deaths, “the best defence is to push ahead with our vaccination programme”.

The Ministry of Health opened the portal Tuesday for 37 and 38 year olds to apply for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, with the programme to reach the 33 year olds by the end of the week.

Tuesday’s figure of 263 patients being treated at state hospitals was lower than the 276 the day before, while the 65 critical cases were one less than Monday. The average age of all patients remains unchanged at 58.6 years.

A significantly higher number of 62,459 PCR and antigen rapid tests were conducted on Tuesday as many rushed to be tested prior to returning to work after the Greek Orthodox Easter, due to health protocols that oblige employees to be tested on a weekly basis.

In all, 509 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 were diagnosed, which based on the total tested, generated a test positivity rate of 0.81%, below the benchmark 1.00% risk factor.

The total number of infections during the past 14 months is now 67,420.

Tuesday’s new cases included 31 identified through contact tracing of 665 samples linked to earlier infections, three tested positive among 1,750 passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports, and 56 were diagnosed from private lab and hospital tests.

A further 419 were diagnosed from the national rapid testing programme.

Of these, 131 were in Nicosia (test positivity rate of 0.64%), 122 in Limassol (0.80%), 70 in Larnaca (0.74%), 40 in Paphos (0.78%), and 31 in Famagusta district (0.86%),

All of the 739 samples from staff and residents at retirement homes tested negative, while of 2,663 tests in industrial zones, sports clubs and other facilities, six tested positive.

Test numbers and infection rates are expected to rise when schools reopen after the Easter break.


Easter results in a few days

Meanwhile, virologist and government advisor on coronavirus, Dr Peter Karayiannis, said it will take a few more days to see whether Cypriots followed the COVID-19 rules during the Easter holidays when some lockdown restrictions were briefly lifted.

House visits were allowed on Easter Sunday while the curfew was extended to 1 pm on Easter Saturday for people to attend church, but there is a feeling social gathering rules were violated.

Karayiannis said it was up to the government whether to extend Lockdown III introduced on 26 April and expected to be lifted on 10 May.

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said Cyprus aims to achieve herd immunity at the end of June, with 60-65% of the population having received at least the first dose of the vaccine.

“This is the percentage that has been achieved in the United Kingdom and in Israel, which, as we know, has allowed these countries to return to a kind of normalcy, which was impossible a couple of months ago,” said Karayiannis.

The virologist believes that mask-wearing may not be necessary once COVID cases are contained to a low level.

“We need to make sure that the virus is not widespread in the community because there is a chance that the vaccinated will get sick as well.”