Scientists warn that it’s just a matter of time before the more contagious Delta+ variant of COVID-19 finds its way to Cyprus.
Believed to be 10%-15% more transmissible, the Delta Plus mutation, an offshoot of the Delta variant, has scientists on their toes across the globe.
In the UK especially, scientists are investigating whether the new variant is responsible for a growing proportion of COVID-19 cases.
This AY.4.2 subvariant, or Delta+, has only recently been recognised by virologists who follow the genetic evolution of Delta, but it already accounts for almost 10% of UK infections.
In statements to the Cyprus News Agency, epidemiologist Michalis Voniatis said: “In the United Kingdom, there has been an increase in deaths, and there are questions over the virulence of Delta+.”
Taking note of Cyprus’ close ties with the UK, Dr Voniatis added that with increased air traffic, “it is only a matter of time before it comes; we must be vigilant and monitor the situation”.
He pointed out that it is slightly more infectious than the Delta variant.
“The Delta variant is quite infectious and has been prevalent for a long time, not allowing any other variant to take over.”
Voniatis told CNA that scientists expect to see a rise in daily COVID cases in the winter months.
“The numbers are up, and this is not a good sign; if this continues, with people being indoors during the winter, we will see an increase, mainly among children who are most vulnerable at the moment.”
He noted that although the Delta Plus variant may not be as much of a leap as the original Delta was, Cyprus should be looking to improve its vaccination rate.
The epidemiologist called parents to get their children vaccinated to protect them and their family members.
He believes flu cases will be on the rise this winter.
“What concerns us most about the flu issue is that already in the US, there has been an increase of 23% in flu cases compared to 2020.
“Everyone should be vaccinated for the flu whether they belong to vulnerable groups or are elderly people because it is a good protection measure.”
Voniatis said there would be more respiratory virus infections, but scientists are concerned about the flu, a serious illness that can cause respiratory failure.