COVID19: Hospitals postpone routine operations, limit capacity

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Hospitals have been instructed to free up beds to accommodate a rise in COVID-19 patients and postpone non-emergency operations.

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas on Thursday issued a decree to all hospitals in the public and private sector to postpone all routine operations; private hospitals have been told to limit their capacity to 70% and ICUs to 60%.

The decree will come into effect from July 17, with non-life-threatening operations being postponed indefinitely.

The decree, published in the government gazette, was issued after a record 1,120 COVID-19 cases were recorded on Wednesday, causing concern among scientists that patient numbers will rapidly increase.

There are over 165 patients in COVID-19 wards and ICU’s in state hospitals, 40 of whom are in a more serious condition.

Cyprus infections have spiralled since a lull between May to mid-June, surpassing 1,000 cases for the first time this week.

In comments to state radio CyBC, Spokesperson of the state health services organisation (OKYPY) Charalambos Charilaou said: “In the past few days, the number of ICU patients has risen, which is worrying”.

Meanwhile, experts call people to get vaccinated as this is the only way out of the pandemic.

Health authorities have so far vaccinated 68.5% of the eligible population with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 60% are fully vaccinated.

However, scientists estimate that vaccine coverage needs to reach 80 to 85% of the population to build herd immunity.

In comments to Digital TV on Thursday, a government adviser on the outbreak, virologist Dr Peter Karayiannis said the potent Delta variant drives the recent surge.

“To be able to reach herd immunity, it would take a minimum of 80 to 85% coverage across the age board of the island’s population,” said Karayiannis.

“We need to join forces on this.

“It is not enough to have 75% of the population trying to fight this virus, while the other 25% is going about its business as if things were back to normal.”