Cyprus reported an unprecedented 5,048 coronavirus cases on Friday, ending the year at its worst as December was the second deadliest month at 41, while hospitalisations continued to rise to 180, near the national bed capacity level.
Cyprus may have avoided a fourth lockdown as the government tightened COVID-19 rules, but stricter measures may soon be imposed as Omicron fuels record infections.
The health ministry said in its daily Covid bulletin that a 76 year old man and 78 year old woman were the latest victims of the virus, raising the death toll since the pandemic started to 638.
December deaths were up from 12 in November and one more than the 40 deaths recorded in September, after a record 80 in August and 20 in October.
Daily infections saw a new record for the fifth consecutive day and are five times higher than a week ago, which experts attribute to the highly transmissive Omicron variant.
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, set a new high on Thursday with 3,851, more than triple the previous high of 1,152 in July, before Friday’s record 5,048.
Hospitalisations rose by two to 180, with serious cases down six at 79.
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 remained unchanged at 28, while 86% of hospital patients were reported as unvaccinated, up from the previous day’s 85%.
Eighteen 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 166,827.
Record 170,000 tests
A total 169,476 PCR and rapid tests were conducted during the past 24 hours, 55,000 more than Thursday as more needed a negative result to be allowed in clubs and venues hosting New Year celebrations.
With a new record in cases as well as tests, the benchmark ‘test positivity’ rate skyrocketed to an unprecedented 2.98% from 3.36%, triple the high-risk barrier of 1.0%.
Of the new infections, 105 were passengers who arrived at Larnaca and Paphos airports, and 1,377 were diagnosed from private initiative, hospital, and GP tests.
A further 2,815 cases were detected from private rapid tests at labs and pharmacies, and 751 were positive from the free national testing programme, available only to those vaccinated or recovered from earlier infections.
Two of the 761 samples from retirement homes were positive, while two of 175 samples tested positive from restricted institutions. All ten tests in special schools had a negative result.