According to the latest genomic sequencing results of coronavirus, the more contagious Delta variant is now the predominant variant of COVID-19 in Cyprus, explaining the surge in cases.
On Thursday, the Health Ministry said the Delta variant was found in all 34 samples (100%) sent to the European Centre for Disease Control for sequencing, collected from 28 June to 1 July.
“The data shows with high certainty the gradual but huge rise in samples in which the Delta variant was detected,” a ministry statement said.
It added: “From a few cases of the Delta variant at the end of April, and the beginning of May, to witnessing its full dominance at the start of July.”
According to the Health Ministry, apart from samples sent to the ECDC for sequencing, the ministry also had samples tested by a private laboratory on the island, with samples collected since mid-April.
It said the Delta variant is detected mainly in unvaccinated people and six times more contagious than the Alpha (British) variant, affecting mainly young people who are more socially active.
Vaccination rates for people aged under 30 are less than 50%, while over 70% of the adult population has received one COVID jab.
The first cases of the Delta variant were detected in April and concerned two travellers who were checked at the airport.
Cyprus health authorities are in a race against time to vaccinate younger people.
They fear the more contagious Indian variant could overthrow plans for recovery and crush the country’s health system.
COVID-19 daily cases have been stubbornly high in recent weeks, with 1,014 infections reported on Wednesday along with three deaths.
A record high of 1,152 daily cases reached on 15 July is balmed on the Delta variant, as are rising hospital admissions.
The total number of cases since the pandemic began in March 2020 is 94,261 infections and 394 deaths.