COVID19: Omicron would trigger 1,500 daily

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Scientists fear the almost certain arrival of the Omicron variant of coronavirus will implode daily figures of Cyprus COVID-19 cases to over 1,000.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, epidemiologist Dr Michalis Voniatis said that while cases seem to have stabilised at around 500-600 a day, cases could explode to 1,500.

Voniatis said the situation on the island could change rapidly with the arrival of the Omicron variant.

“With the arrival of the Omicron variant, it is quite possible to see these figures.

“If we calculate that 5% are likely to get seriously ill, then the pressure on the health system will be significant.

“It is just a matter of time before it arrives. It might already be here, but we have yet to detect it,” said Voniatis.

The epidemiologist noted that scientists are still looking at the new variant and its potential to disrupt the world’s efforts to exit the pandemic that started in March 2020.

Although scientists are aware the new variant spreads faster, they still do not know enough about Omicron to come to a safe conclusion over how deadly it can be.

“There have been no serious cases in South Africa requiring hospitalisation and treatment with oxygen and intubation and death, but let us not forget the population of South Africa is younger than the one in Europe, so we do not have convincing evidence this variant will not cause serious illness.”

Voniatis said that this variant is more transmissible on its own as a cause of concern, as more people will contract the virus, including a larger number of vulnerable people.

Meanwhile, the Cyprus state health services organisation OKYPY said public hospitals are prepared to tackle a possible rise in hospitalisations of COVID-19 patients.

OKYPY said the situation remains manageable while hospitals stand ready to respond in case of further deterioration.

OKYPY’s plan includes deploying 300 beds in COVID-19 wards and 65 in hospital ICUs.

More than 6,000 COVID-19 patients have been treated in hospitals since the outbreak of the pandemic, about 600 of whom were in the ICU.

On Wednesday, 128 COVID patients were in hospitals, of which 43 were in ICUs, and 76.57% were unvaccinated.

The Omicron variant has been reported in 57 nations, and the number of patients needing hospitalisation is likely to rise as it spreads, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

The UK Health Security Agency said on Wednesday: “If the growth rate and doubling time continue at the rate we have seen in the last two weeks, we expect to see at least 50% of COVID-19 cases to be caused by the Omicron variant in the next two to four weeks.”