Cyprus reported five coronavirus deaths on Thursday, propelling August among the deadliest months during the pandemic, with the toll rising to 67 and to 491 during the past 17 months.
The latest victims were four men, aged 47 to 84, and a 57 year old woman.
Despite recording no deaths on Wednesday for the first time in a fortnight, the monthly count overtook April’s 56 and neared the record 76 each last December and January.
New daily infections dropped to 254 and hospitalisations to 178.
Although the record spike in coronavirus infections has subsided, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said earlier on Thursday that the government would not loosen restrictions in place, such as the Safe Pass.
Hadjipantelas said it was difficult to relax the measures, as “no one can foresee what will happen in the next two to three months”.
The health ministry said in its Covid bulletin that hospitalisations dropped further to 178, three fewer from the day before, of whom 72 are critical, three less from Wednesday.
Of these, 31 remain intubated, down by six from the previous day and 87% of hospital patients are unvaccinated, up from 86%.
A further 15 patients are considered post-Covid, having recovered from the virus, but remain intubated and in a serious state.
Some 45,382 PCR and antigen rapid tests were conducted during the past 24 hours, 6,000 more than the day before.
The total number of all SARS-CoV-2 infections since the pandemic started in March last year rose to 112,532.
Test positivity drops to 0.56%
The 254 new infections, three fewer than on Wednesday, and the higher total tests helped lower the benchmark ‘test positivity’ rate to 0.56%, lower than 0.65% and nearly half the high-risk threshold of 1%.
Of the new cases, six passengers tested positive in PCR tests at Larnaca and Paphos airports, and 60 were diagnosed from private initiative and hospital tests.
A further 115 cases were identified from private rapid tests at labs and pharmacies, and 73 were positive from the free national testing programme, available only to those vaccinated or recovered from earlier infections.
Of these, 33 were in Nicosia, 20 in Limassol, 10 in Larnaca, 3 in the Famagusta region and two in Paphos.
Three of 697 samples from staff and residents at retirement homes tested positive.
None of the 72 random rapid tests on passengers arriving at both airports were negative, nor were any of the 50 tests of guests sponsored by the hoteliers’ association.