COVID19: Concern over rising test positivity rate

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Authorities are concerned over a spike in the positivity rate of rapid antigen tests combined with low vaccination take-up among the young, said outgoing Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou.

During a visit to Famagusta General, designated as the country’s COVID-19 referral hospital, Ioannou said Cyprus could be headed for a new outbreak, as the vaccination rollout has slowed down recently.

“The unvaccinated are being hit harder by the virus than the vaccinated while some people are not following the measures,” said Ioannou.

He pointed out that the positivity rate from rapid tests on Monday had doubled compared to previous days, reaching an average of 0.32%.

“Of additional concern is the fact that interest in vaccinations has waned, as the online vaccination portal has been open since last Friday, for all ages over 18, but with little interest.

“Very few appointments have been booked,” said Ioannou.

Health officials last week urged the younger population to get vaccinated to keep the Delta (Indian) variant at bay and avoid a new outbreak similar to the one caused by the Alpha (British) variant a few months back.

“The only way to prevent a new outbreak of the pandemic is to increase vaccinations.”

Ioannou argued that vaccinations have proven to be effective.

“In age groups with higher vaccination coverage, the number of cases observed are negligible, while for the under 30s where vaccination coverage is far from satisfactory, cases are on the rise.”

He warned that Cypriots would have to learn to live with the virus, “abide by measures, otherwise, if we continue behaving as we are, we will witness a new outbreak of the pandemic”.

So far, 62% of the population have received their first jab, with Cyprus’ vaccination rate among the highest in the EU.

During his visit to the COVID-19 referral hospital, Ioannou thanked the hospital staff for their contribution in dealing with the pandemic.

“They have made us all proud in dealing with the numbers of hospitalised COVID patients over the last 15 months”.