COVID19: Cases drop below 500 as Omicron a major concern

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Cyprus said one person died of coronavirus on Sunday, as new daily cases dropped to 448, while hospitalisations remained at high levels with 175 needing treatment, with authorities worried about new Omicron variants being discovered.

So far, 25 of the registered cases were linked to students from a Limassol technical school returning from the U.K., while a further eight were reported to have travelled to other destinations in recent weeks, with officials expressing fear that the spread of the variant could be higher among students and teachers.

Government advisor Dr Petros Karayiannis said, “because the detection of the first incidents took place after a few days when they returned to Cyprus, it was expected that they would have transmitted first to their close family environment and then to others. This means that there may be other incidents out there that have already been infected.”

At the same time, Professor of Pathology and Infections, Dr. George Petrikkos, noted that, “it is not only what has been discovered. There will be many more because each of them may have transmitted to 10 other people.”


23 deaths in December

The health ministry said in its daily Covid bulletin that an 87 year old man died, raising the death toll since the pandemic started to 620, of whom 23 were in December.

New daily cases continued to retreat, dipped below 500 to 448, having dropped below 600 the previous day, to 508 from 695 infections recorded on Friday.

Hospitalisations remained at high levels and decreased by two to 175, dangerously close to the bed capacity of 200, with the more serious cases up by one, at 60.

Patient numbers have increased steadily since breaking past the 100-level in mid-November.

Intubated patients increased by one to 22, while 79% of hospital patients were reported as unvaccinated, down marginally from 80% on Saturday.

Nine patients are 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 reached 145,161.

Testing dropped to 59,828 PCR and antigen rapid tests, about 16,000 less than the day before.

With a drop in both tests and daily infections, the benchmark ‘test positivity’ rate increased to 0.75%, from 0.67%, below the high-risk threshold of 1%.

Of the new infections, nine were identified through contact tracing linked to earlier infections, 49 passengers arrived at Larnaca and Paphos airports, and 69 were diagnosed from private initiative, hospital, and GP tests.

A further 127 cases were detected from private rapid tests at labs and pharmacies, and 194 were positive from the free national testing programme, available only to those vaccinated or recovered from earlier infections.

All of the 85 samples from retirement homes were negative, while 48 were positive among 1942 tests at restricted institutions.