Medical and healthcare workers in the struggle to tackle coronavirus, at Nicosia General Hospital, Cyprus

COVID19: Virus spread escalates, 5 dead

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New coronavirus cases soared to 1,056 on Monday, with five deaths and hospitalisations peaking at 228, as health experts say the numbers will rise following Sunday’s anti-vaccine protest of thousands opposed to the SafePass in Nicosia that turned violent.

Nine people have been remanded after eye witnesses identified them as perpetrators of the attacks at the nearby Sigma TV station, destroying equipment, burnings cars and nearly killing a night guard who barely escaped from petrol bombs.

The new infections were a leap from Sunday’s 858, but about 100 short of the record 1,152 cases last Thursday, after the daily rates remained stubbornly above 1,000.

The health ministry said in its daily Covid bulletin that five people died on Monday, raising the death toll for July to 12 and to 390 since the pandemic started.

The latest victims included four men aged 35, 66, 77 and 88, and a 92 year old woman.

The health ministry added that 228 patients are currently being treated for SARS-CoV-2, of whom 56 are critical. This is significantly up from Sunday’s 218 and 50, respectively.

About 91 of hospitalisations involve people who have not been vaccinated, the health ministry said.

Some 69,464 PCR and antigen rapid tests were conducted on Monday, about 1,000 fewer than the previous day.

The 1,056 new cases, based on the total tests, generated a national ‘test positivity’ rate of 1.52%, significantly higher than Sunday’s 1.21%.

The benchmark high-risk level is 1.00%, which had peaked at above 2.00% last week.

Monday’s new SARS-CoV-2 cases pushed the total infections for the past 16 months to 92,252.

Of the new cases, 27 were identified through contact tracing linked to earlier infections, 21 passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports were positive in PCR tests, and 292 were diagnosed through private lab and hospital tests.

A further 716 were diagnosed through the national rapid test programme, 44 less than the day before, with Nicosia taking the lead with most cases, at 218, but a lower test positivity rate of 0.94%, below the benchmark of 1.00%.

Limassol was next with 162 new cases and a 1.18% rate, followed by 146 in Larnaca (1.44%), 58 in Paphos (0.89%) and 44 in Famagusta district with 0.95%.

Five people tested positive from 1,275 samples of staff and residents at retirement homes.