Cyprus reported two coronavirus deaths on Wednesday and a mild drop in new cases to 650, with hospitalisations remaining at a high level of 157, as the authorities increased pressure on antivaxxers in an effort to contain the spread of the Omicron variant.
Thousands headed to walk-in vaccination centres throughout the day, particularly in Limassol, a stronghold of Covid-deniers, as the government imposed further restrictions on the unvaccinated.
The health ministry said in its daily Covid bulletin that the latest victims of the pandemic were a 95 year old man and an 82-year-old woman, taking the death toll since the pandemic started to 614, of which 17 in December.
After daily infections nearly doubled to the recent high of 715 on Monday, new cases dropped slightly to 650 from 662 on Tuesday.
Hospitalisations remained at high levels and decreased by two to 157, with more serious cases dropping by five, at 54.
Patient numbers have increased steadily since breaking past the 100-level in mid-November.
Intubated patients saw an increase by two to 20, while 77% of hospital patients were reported as unvaccinated.
7 are still post-Covid
Seven patients are still considered post-Covid, having recovered from the virus, but remain intubated and in a serious state.
The total number of SARS-CoV-2 infections since March 2020 rose to 142,878.
Testing increased slightly, with 85,024 PCR and antigen rapid tests, about 4,000 more than the day before, as tests in schools totaled about 20,700.
Of the 9,281 tests in primary schools 21 were reported as positive cases, and 20 new cases from 11,474 tests in high schools.
With a rise in tests and mild drop in daily infections, the benchmark ‘test positivity’ rate dropped to 0.76%, from 0.82%, below the high-risk threshold of 1%.
Of the new infections, 115 were identified through contact tracing linked to earlier infections, 21 were passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports, and 142 were diagnosed from private initiative, hospital, and GP tests.
A further 257 cases were identified from private rapid tests at labs and pharmacies, and 115 were positive from the free national testing programme, available only to those vaccinated or recovered from earlier infections.
Only one of the 944 tests at retirement homes was positive, as well as five from 2,570 tests in restricted institutions.