Coronavirus infections soared to a new daily record for the fourth day in a row with 3,851 cases and one death on Thursday, as the government announced mildly stricter measures in an effort to control the Covid-19 spread during the New Year holidays.
The new measures focus mainly on the unvaccinated, with other restrictions including increased rate of work-form-home, fewer fans at sports events, frequent tests at airports and online learning for university students.
The health ministry said in its daily bulletin that a 95 year old woman was the latest victim of the virus, with the death toll rising to 636, of which 39 were in December, up from 12 in November.
This is one short of the 40 deaths recorded in September, after a record 80 in August and 20 in October.
From 912 daily cases on Boxing Day, new infections leaped to 1,925 on Monday, surged to 2,241 on Tuesday and 3,002 on Wednesday, breaking all records on Thursday with 3,851, more than triple the previous high of 1,152 in July. The raging spread is widely attributed to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Hospitalisations rose by four to 178, with serious cases up one at 85.
Patient numbers have increased steadily since breaking past the 100-level in mid-November, raising fears of reaching the national bed capacity of 200.
85% of patients unvaccinated
The number of intubated patients increased by four to 28, while 85% of hospital patients were reported as unvaccinated, up from the previous day’s 83%.
Sixteen 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 161,779.
A total 114,743 PCR and rapid tests were conducted, 4,000 less than Wednesday as more will seek a negative result to be allowed in clubs.
With a new record in cases and a small decrease in tests, the benchmark ‘test positivity’ rate skyrocketed to an unprecedented 3.36% from 2.52%, more than triple the high-risk barrier of 1.0%.
Of the new infections, 281 were identified through contact tracing, 85 were passengers who arrived at Larnaca and Paphos airports, and 840 were diagnosed from private initiative, hospital, and GP tests.
A further 1,818 cases were detected from private rapid tests at labs and pharmacies, and 827 were positive from the free national testing programme, available only to those vaccinated or recovered from earlier infections.
Five of the 1,016 samples from retirement homes were positive, while 55 of 1,623 samples tested positive from restricted institutions. All seven tests in special schools had a negative result.