Cyprus reported one coronavirus death on Friday and an increase in both new daily cases and hospitalisations, to 695 and 171 respectively, with authorities confirming the presence of 28 cases of the Omicron variant on the island.
The health ministry said a 62 year old woman was the latest victim of the pandemic, raising the death toll since March last year to 617, of which 20 in December.
With new daily cases remaining above 600 throughout the week, 695 infections were recorded on Friday, up from Thursday’s 632 and nearing Monday’s recent high of 715.
Hospitalisations remained at high levels and increased by six to 171, dangerously close to the bed capacity of 200, with the more serious cases up by six, at 57.
Patient numbers have increased steadily since breaking past the 100-level in mid-November.
Intubated patients saw an increase by two to 20, while 75% of hospital patients were reported as unvaccinated.
Eight 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 144,205.
Testing dropped, with 82,410 PCR and antigen rapid tests, about 5,000 less than the day before, as tests in schools dropped significantly to about 10,800.
Of the 8,964 tests in primary schools 11 were reported as positive cases, and two new cases from 1,922 tests in high schools.
With a drop in tests and rise in daily infections, the benchmark ‘test positivity’ rate increased to 0.84%, from 0.73%, below the high-risk threshold of 1%.
Of the new infections, 144 were identified through contact tracing linked to earlier infections, 40 were passengers arriving at Larnaca and Paphos airports, and 108 were diagnosed from private initiative, hospital, and GP tests.
A further 292 cases were identified from private rapid tests at labs and pharmacies, and 111 were positive from the free national testing programme, available only to those vaccinated or recovered from earlier infections.
All of the 478 tests at retirement homes were negative, as well as 348 tests in restricted institutions.
The health ministry said that 28 new cases of the Omicron variant have been detected, the vast majority in Limassol and traced back to the initial infections of the student group visiting the U.K. earlier this month, who came into contact with supporters of the Scottish rugby squad.
All confirmation tests were conducted locally.
One cluster of 8 confirmed cases were students who had travelled with the initial school group, and their family members who got infected.
The second cluster of 20 included 12 students and their family members, also linked to the initial school group, while eight were recorded to have travelled recently.