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COVID19: Cyprus takes action after worst spike worldwide

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President Nicos Anastasiades has called a meeting of government scientists on Tuesday to mull extra measures to blunt a covid-19 spike that is the worst recorded globally.

According to Agence France Presse data, Cyprus recorded the world’s highest covid incidence rate of cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last seven days.

It was top with 2,505 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Denmark (2,117), Ireland (1,946), Greece (1,762) and France (1,680).

Europe is currently reporting the largest number of cases worldwide, with 5,374,054 over the last seven days (55% of the world total), followed by the United States and Canada (3,015,921 cases, 31%).

Fuelled by the highly infectious Omicron variant, Cyprus broke its record of weekly cases detected since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

On 31 December, authorities confirmed its biggest daily infection rate of 5,048, and on Monday, this figure was nearly matched with 5,024 infections.

Last week, Cyprus registered five consecutive daily record highs culminating in the New Year’s Eve spike.

Due to the rise in hospital admissions and cases, President Anastasiades will convene a meeting of scientists advising the government on coronavirus.

Earlier Tuesday, experts will discuss introducing more measures with the health minister.

The cabinet is expected to announce the new measures on Wednesday.

Further restrictions could see the delay in schools reopening after the holidays, tighter restrictions on gatherings in church, hospitality, nightclubs, and home visits.

So far, the government has been reluctant to contemplate a fourth national lockdown.

Airports

On Tuesday, Cyprus tightened entry requirements at its airports.

Everyone arriving in the Republic of Cyprus, a regional tourism destination, must present a negative PCR test carried out no more than 48 hours before departure.

Passengers are already required to undergo a PCR test at the airport on arrival, at their own expense.

Other new rules oblige companies to ensure 40 percent of their staff work remotely — twice the current figure — while hospitality venues can only have seated customers and no dancing.

Access to nightclubs, entertainment venues and wedding receptions will require vaccinated patrons to present a negative Covid-19 test carried out within 24 hours, though those with a booster shot are exempt.

All hospital visits have been banned, and sports stadiums are restricted to 50 percent capacity, down from 75 percent.

Until last week the record was 1,152 cases reached in mid-July.

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas told reporters that Omicron was now dominant in the community in 80 percent of cases.

Since the pandemic, Cyprus has officially registered 177,721 coronavirus cases and 641 deaths, including two fatalities on Monday.

A year ago (4 January 2021), Cyprus had only 36,004 cases and 232 deaths.

Mask-wearing is mandatory for everyone aged six and above in public outdoor and indoor areas such as malls.

Double-vaccinated employees must undergo weekly tests, and unvaccinated individuals are banned from hospitality venues and nightclubs.