COVID19: Three-digit cases not expected to drop

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Health experts argue Cyprus will not see cases drop to double digits anytime soon due to the infection rate, while the opening of schools will facilitate the spread of coronavirus.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, epidemiologist Dr Michalis Voniatis expressed concern over students going back to school, noting that cases will spike again if measures are not upheld.

“How big the increase will depend on how well schools abide by the Safe Pass regulation.

“In countries where children have gone back to school, a rapid increase of cases has been recorded, such as the US.

“Of course, one must note the US have a different set of regulations in place,” said Voniatis.

The epidemiologist advised the public, vaccinated and unvaccinated, to abide by personal protection measures like face masks.

“We have seen that we can all become infected whether we are vaccinated or not.

“Therefore, the only way to protect ourselves and our fellow citizens is to follow the protection measures.

“And the reason is that the virus is still circulating in high numbers.

“Three-digit numbers cannot offer us any sense of security.”

He noted that the percentage of children who have been vaccinated is small yet enough to control the situation.

“We have to keep on vaccinating children; we have to keep the spread of the virus to a minimum, and the only way is through vaccination; there is no other way right now.

According to the Health Ministry, 38.5% of teenagers aged 16 and 17 have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 30.4% have been fully vaccinated.

And 22.3% of children aged 12 to 15 have received the first dose of a vaccine, while 9.2% are fully vaccinated.

He said the Safe Pass (which includes regular testing) provides protection and reduces the circulation of the virus to some extent.

“The fourth wave of the pandemic shows signs of good decline, but the case numbers we see may not decrease further as there is a large percentage of the population, almost 200,000 people who have not been vaccinated.”

Voniatis argued that to bring cases down to double digits, “at least 90% of the population will need to be vaccinated with at least the first dose”.

“We cannot feel happy with vaccinating 79% with the first dose.

“We are way behind other countries who have already vaccinated 90% of their population with both doses.”

According to the latest data, 79.1% of the island’s adult population has received at least one dose, while 75.1% has been fully vaccinated.

Regarding the virus’ latest Mu variant, he said it is likely to arrive in Cyprus.

“At least, for the moment, it does not seem to be spreading as fast as the Delta variant.”

Cyprus on Tuesday reported another 206 new COVID cases and two dead, reaching a total of 117,197 infections and 518 deaths since the pandemic began.