COVID19: New restrictions to last until Christmas

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New measures, which the Cabinet will approve on Wednesday to curb COVID-19, will last until Christmas, according to government advisor, virologist Peter Karayiannis.

“We did not talk about a time frame, but the intention is that these remain in force until Christmas.”

In statements to CNA, Dr Karayiannis said that although there are still available beds in hospitals, there is an increase in non-COVID patients who are also taking up ICU beds.

He said that for people to be protected, they need the third dose.

“This is the information that we have right now from other countries.

“That is why we are moving towards the third dose to strengthen the vaccination barrier.

“High levels of antibodies are necessary.

“If someone has a health issue, then their antibody levels may fall faster in the six months. So they may be more exposed.

“If there is a medical reason that the vaccine cannot be done, then that’s another matter.”

“Theoretically, though, if one has received the first two shots, then they can go ahead with the third shot without reservations.

Dr Karayiannis said the government’s intention is not to take more action beyond that decided on Wednesday.

“Of course, for more measures to be taken, the situation must worsen, and that does not mean more cases.

“The hard indicators are hospitalisations and the number of people on ventilators. That is where the problem is.”

The Cabinet is expected to ban Christmas events at schools and public areas, as people attend without masks.

“We are not helping the situation with our behaviour.”

Karagiannis recommended “patience and implementation of measures; otherwise, the situation will continue”.

The Cabinet is expected to approve mask-wearing at primary schools during classes.

“We should realise that since we cannot vaccinate children yet until vaccination for children is approved in Europe, we have no choice if we want to keep schools open.”

Other measures agreed include weekly rapid tests, self-tests for fully vaccinated, the restriction of numbers at public gatherings and remote working.

The possibility of tests for vaccinated and unvaccinated people where clusters of coronavirus cases are detected was also discussed and will be brought before the Cabinet.

Abolition of SafePass for those who do not proceed with the booster dose after seven months is also on the table.