Cyprus reported six coronavirus deaths on Tuesday and a rise in hospitalisations to a critical 292 patients, as health officials called on the government to continue the national free testing programme in order to monitor the spread of the virus.
The new daily infections dropped from 851 to 791.
Scientists advising the government on COVID-19 do not want to see free rapid testing abolished from Sunday, to be replaced by a €10 flat fee at hospitals and pharmacies.
They argue termination of free testing programs will jeopardise efforts to contain the spread of the virus, as tracking new cases and their contacts will become harder.
Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas reaffirmed the government would proceed with the scrapping of free coronavirus rapid tests, despite protest by unvaccinated people required to pay to receive a Safe Pass.
He argued that rapid testing programmes cost the state €6 mln a month, and this money could be channelled to state hospitals handling the outbreak.
The health ministry said in its daily Covid bulletin that 292 patients are currently admitted in state hospitals, of whom 80 are in a critical state, up from 270 and 75, respectively. It said 88% of patients have not been vaccinated.
The capacity at dedicated Covid wards is 300 beds, with the hospitals administration OKYPY planning to add more beds, putting a strain on the national health system and diverting non-critical cases to the private sector.
Six people died on Tuesday, raising the death toll for July to 32 and to 410 since the pandemic started 16 months ago.
The latest victims were three men aged 77, 78 and 81 and three women aged 67, 80 and 86.
In all, 65,063 PCR and antigen rapid tests were conducted on Monday, about 7,000 fewer than the previous day.
Based on the 791 new infections and the total number of tests, the benchmark ‘test positivity’ rate rose from 1.18% to 1.22%, above the high-risk level of 1.00%.
Total infections to date almost 100,000
Tuesday’s new SARS-CoV-2 cases pushed the total infections for the past 16 months to 99,360.
A total 62 positive tests resulted from the contact tracing method, while 13 new infections were recorded from PCR tests at Larnaca and Paphos airports.
Some 214 positive test results came from private lab and hospital tests, 30 less than the day before, while a further 502 were diagnosed from the national rapid test programme, down from 578.
Of these, 155 were in Nicosia with a marginally decreased test positivity rate of 0.76%, 118 in Limassol (0.87%), 75 in Larnaca (0.92%), 67 in Paphos (0.84%) and 52 in Famagusta district (0.87%).
Unlike previous days, all 1,092 tests on staff and residents at retirement homes had a negative result, while two passengers tested positive from random 224 rapid tests at the airports.