COVID19: Cyprus drops back into EU red zone

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After being upgraded to orange two weeks ago, Cyprus has returned to the red zone on the COVID-19 epidemiological risk map compiled by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The latest epidemiological risk assessment list was uploaded on ECDC’s website on Thursday.

The island struggled to bring the country out of the highest-risk ‘dark red’ zone it had fallen to in July when Covid-19 cases reached four-digit figures.

A fourth wave of infections, powered by the deadlier and more contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, pushed daily cases up to 1,152 mid-July.

The outbreak was brought under control with a push in vaccinations and testing programmes.

Red zone areas are where the 14-day cumulative Covid-19 case notification rate ranges from 75 to 200, and the test positivity rate is 4% or more, or the 14-day cumulative case rate is more than 200 but less than 500 (when the cumulative rate exceeds 500 the area enters the “deep red” zone).

Cyprus has succeeded in maintaining a test positivity rate below 1% in September and October.

However, in recent days it had steadily reported triple-digit daily COVID-19 cases, except the past two Sundays when fewer tests were carried out as the majority of pharmacists catering to the unvaccinated are closed.

On Thursday, health authorities reported another 144 new cases with a positivity rate of 0.26%.

So far, Cyprus has reported 122,996 COVID-19 cases and 566 deaths.

Meanwhile, the epidemiological situation has improved in Spain, France, Italy, and Portugal, where several areas are now in the green, or safe zone, with the rest of the regions in these countries in the orange zone.

Most areas in Sweden, Poland, and Czechia, and all of Denmark, are in the orange zone.

The situation is also mixed in Norway, Poland, and Czechia, where some areas are red.

Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, and Hungary are in the red, either in their entirety or with most of their regions.

Several countries are in the “deep red” category: the Baltic countries, Romania, a significant part of Bulgaria, Slovenia, part of Croatia and the northernmost regions of Greece.

However, Crete, the Aegean islands, Epirus, and Attica are in the orange zone.

ECDC publishes relevant maps and data every Thursday supporting the Council recommendation on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the pandemic.

Its epidemiological map is a guideline for EU member states to form their safe travel lists, and with Cyprus in the red makes things harder for tourism to pick up the pace.