COVID19: Jury still out if Easter will cause cases spike

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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.

Virologist and government advisor on coronavirus, Dr Peter Karayiannis, said the outlook would become clearer with more tests after the holiday break.

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.

“The situation is a bit difficult to determine because of Easter; not enough tests have been done, so we do not have a clear picture of where the epidemiological curve is going,” Karayiannis told CNA.

“What I see is a stabilization because the percentage of positivity regardless of how many tests are done daily is around 1.3-1.4%, which remains unchanged.

“Before Easter, there was a drop in cases but with a wide variation from 900 cases to 600,” he added.

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

Scientists will discuss the situation with the government before any decision is taken.

“We need to see how our epidemiological picture is shaped in a day or two after returning to the regular number of tests that took place before Easter Saturday.”

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.

“This means that we, with the good weather, will reduce the number of cases significantly and little by little, we will return to the normality that we knew before.”

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.

“They can potentially act as carriers of the virus, so we need to be careful until we reach this 65-70% immunity in the general population.” (source CNA)