Cyprus reported a slight drop in new daily coronavirus cases to 928 on Saturday, only 25 fewer than the day before, but no deaths were reported as hospital patient numbers rise.
Thursday saw a record 1,152 infections, following the 1081 and 1120 on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
In a bid to encourage the under 30s to get jabbed, the government will extend the use of the COVID Safe Pass, which will be needed to enter most outdoor and indoor shops and venues.
From 20 July, a Safe Pass is needed almost everywhere except for the beach, parks, pharmacies, kiosks, and bakeries.
The passport is proof someone has recovered from the virus, is vaccinated, or has a negative test valid for more than 72 hours.
The Health Ministry said in its Covid bulletin that hospitalisations increased to 203 from Friday’s 190 with 54 patients considered critical, 10 more than the previous day.
It added that nearly 90% of all patients being treated for Covid-19 had not been vaccinated.
Patient numbers have been rising steadily all week, climbing from 139 last Sunday, surpassing the critical level of 200 patients, the bed capacity figure in state hospitals deemed as manageable.
The death toll for July remains at six and 384 since the pandemic started.
To date, 256 of the victims were men (67%) and 128 women, with an average age of 77.2 years.
Some 72,874 PCR and antigen rapid tests were conducted Saturday, the same level as the previous day.
Based on the 928 new cases and a large test figure, the benchmark national ‘test positivity’ rate dropped slightly to 1.27%, from 1.31% the day before.
The benchmark high-risk level is 1.00%.
Saturday’s new SARS-CoV-2 cases pushed the total of infections for the past 16 months to 90,338.
Of the new cases, two were identified through contact tracing linked to earlier infections, 12 passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports were positive in PCR tests, and 232 were diagnosed through private lab and hospital tests.
A further 607 were diagnosed through the national rapid test programme, 105 less than the day before, with Limassol taking the lead with most cases, at 182, but a higher test positivity rate of 1.31%, above the benchmark of 1.00%.
Nicosia was next with 180 new cases and a 0.82% rate, followed by 101 in Larnaca (1.02%), 63 in Famagusta district (0.85%) the lowest and 79 in Paphos with 0.94%.
All 544 samples from staff and residents at retirement homes tested negative, as did 194 random rapid test checks at the airports among passengers arriving from safe destinations.