Cyprus reported two coronavirus deaths on Monday and a record 1,925 new daily cases from 912, with hospitalisations steady at a high level of 161, and the number of intubated patients on the rise.
Earlier in the day, government advisors said daily infection rates would continue to rise from 800-900 seen throughout the past week to much higher numbers due to the Omicron variant.
Dr Peter Karayiannis, virologist and advisor to the government on COVID-19, said he expected daily cases to exceed 1,000 within the next couple of days, with Omicron pushing cases even further in the week ahead, exerting more strain on the island’s health system.
“The concern is that as Omicron is highly transmissible, this will mean that a larger number of patients will be landing in hospitals, bringing about more pressure on the health system, and deaths,” said the virologist.
With Omicron accounting for 96 cases so far, a leading epidemiologist, Dr Michalis Voniatis, said that the Omicron variant could push Cyprus’ daily COVID-19 cases up to 2,000.
The health ministry said in its daily Covid bulletin that a 76 year old man and a 79 year old woman were the latest victims of the pandemic, raising the death toll to 630, of whom 33 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.
There were more than 800 new daily cases throughout the past week, breaking the 900 barrier three times – 978 on Thursday, 917 on Friday and 912 on Sunday.
New record from 1,512 in July
Monday’s 1,925 broke all records, topping the previous high of 1,152 in July.
Hospitalisations dropped marginally by one to 161, with serious cases rising by four, at 78.
Patient numbers have increased steadily since breaking past the 100-level in mid-November, raising fears of reaching the national bed capacity of 200.
The number of intubated patients rose by one to 27, while 81% of hospital patients were reported as unvaccinated, unchanged from Sunday.
Fifteen patients are still considered post-Covid, having recovered from the virus, two more from the day before, but remain intubated and in a serious state.
The total number of SARS-CoV-2 infections since March 2020 reached 152,685.
A record 121,127 PCR and rapid tests were conducted, more than double Sunday’s 53,715.
With a record number of tests and spiralling new cases, the benchmark ‘test positivity’ rate dropped slightly to 1.59%, having peaked at 1.70% on Sunday and after soaring past the high-risk barrier of 1.0% on Saturday to 1.65%.
Of the new infections, 164 were identified through contact tracing, 44 were passengers who arrived at Larnaca and Paphos airports, and 407 were diagnosed from private initiative, hospital, and GP tests.
A further 926 cases were detected from private rapid tests at labs and pharmacies, and 384 were positive from the free national testing programme, available only to those vaccinated or recovered from earlier infections.
Four of the 1,042 samples from retirement homes were positive, while all 184 samples tested negative in restricted institutions, as well as 45 from special schools.