Cyprus reported one coronavirus death on Thursday and a mild drop in hospitalisations, while daily cases soared once again, to 978, pushing the test positivity rate beyond the 1.0% risk level.
The health ministry said in its daily Covid bulletin that an 81 year old man was the latest victim of the pandemic, raising the death toll to 625, of which 28 were in December, up from 12 in November.
After a record 80 deaths in August, the number dropped to 40 in September and 20 in October.
New daily cases have been on the up all week. Having nearly doubled to 835 on Monday, they dipped to 806 on Tuesday and soared again to 883 on Wednesday, edging closer to 1,000 on Thursday.
Hospitalisations dropped slightly by ten to 162, close to the bed capacity of 200, with the more serious cases increasing by two, at 66.
Patient numbers have increased steadily since breaking past the 100-level in mid-November.
The number of intubated patients dipped by one to 25, while 78% of hospital patients were reported as unvaccinated, up marginally from 77%.
Thirteen 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 reached 148,663.
Testing totalled 93,233 PCR and antigen rapid tests, about 10,000 less than the day before, with fewer tests in schools as primaries closed for the holidays.
There will be no testing on Christmas Day and will resume on Boxing Day, with limited labs available.
Of the 8,138 samples in high schools, 23 tested positive.
Benchmark rate breached
With a decrease in tests and rise in daily infections to 978, some 95 more than the day before, the benchmark ‘test positivity’ rate broke the high-risk barrier and rose to 1.05%, from 0.85%.
Of the new infections, 178 were identified through contact tracing linked to earlier infections, 44 were passengers who arrived at Larnaca and Paphos airports, and 168 were diagnosed from private initiative, hospital, and GP tests.
The vast majority of positive cases at the airports were returnees, mainly from the U.K. suggesting it is Cypriot university students flying home for the holidays. A high rate includes Omicron cases.
A further 408 cases were detected from private rapid tests at labs and pharmacies, and 180 were positive from the free national testing programme, available only to those vaccinated or recovered from earlier infections.
Three of the 832 samples from retirement homes were positive, as were 36 positive cases from 2,319 samples at restricted institutions.